Early Girl Tomato Sauce with Roasted Onions and Garlic
make about 4 – 5 pints
8 lbs early girl tomatoes, stems removed
2 T. dried herbs (Italian seasoning blend, or a mixture of rosemary, thyme, basil, marjoram, and sage)
1 head garlic
1 sweet onion
2 yellow onions
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Prepare a large bowl of ice water and set aside.
Cut a small X in the bottom of each tomato, then add tomatoes in batches to the boiling water. Blanch for about 30-45 seconds, or until the skin starts to peel away from the tomato flesh. The blanching time depends on the ripeness of your tomatoes. Remove from the boiling water and place into the ice water. Repeat until all tomatoes are blanched.
Place a fine mesh strainer over a large pot (a 5 qt dutch oven works well). Remove the tomatoes from the ice water and peel the skins off and discard. Squeeze each tomato over the strainer so that the juices go into the pot but not the seeds. Add the de-seeded tomatoes to the pot. They will break down while cooking, so there is no need to chop them.
Add about 1 t. each salt and pepper to the tomatoes, as well as the dried herbs, then bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally and scraping the bottom of the pan to dislodge any stuck bits, until the tomato sauce has thickened, but is still a little more watery than you’d like for the final product.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the top quarter off the head of garlic, drizzle with olive oil, then wrap loosely in foil. Loosely wrap the un-peeled onions individually in foil, then put them along with the garlic into the oven and roast for about 1 hour. Remove from oven, open foil, and allow to cool. Once cool, peel and chop the onions, and squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins. and mash into a paste
Add the onions and garlic to the tomato mixture, mix well, and gently simmer for another 45 minutes or so Taste and season with more salt, pepper, herbs, or even a little acid (balsamic vinegar, for example). Use immediately, refrigerate for up to a week, or freeze in small portions for future use. Enjoy!
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I lack self control when it comes to buying vegetables from Mariquita Farms. In no way, shape, or form did I need twelve pounds of early girl tomatoes. But something — my vision of delicious ripe tomatoes paired with a lack of vegetable self control, most likely — made me check the box ’1 flat Early Girl Tomatoes’ on the online order form. A few days later I found myself at Piccino picking up not only the twelve pounds of tomatoes, but also ten pound of apples and a 15-20 lb “Mystery Box” of vegetables (including more tomatoes!)… Delicious, yes. But we’re just two people! What was I thinking?
From the moment I picked up the tomatoes, the whole thing seemed like an ill-fated endeavor. To start, I couldn’t carry the 40 lbs of vegetables to my car by myself and had to have someone help me (which she did very graciously!). Next, there was no way I was going to fit that much produce into my fridge. Really? 40 lbs? that’s like if I tried to put my cat into the fridge four times over… or maybe my entire left leg… you get my point — that’s a lot of produce. After that, I discovered that fruit flies LOVE tomatoes. Since I couldn’t put them in the fridge both because of space constraints and the fact that one should never put tomatoes in the fridge, I left them on the counter only to find the box swarming with fruit flies the next morning… ugh. What was I thinking?
Ok. I know what I was thinking. I was thinking — these Mariquita Farms tomatoes are SO GOOD and they are only available for a few short weeks every year! I missed tomato season last year because I was in the process of moving back from Germany, and I absolutely didn’t want to miss it this year. That’s what I was thinking. So what if I had 14 lbs of tomatoes staring me in the face? I vowed to make good use of them.
And make good use of them I did! I dried about 4 lbs of them (cut in half, dry in a 200 degree oven on oiled cookie racks until dry but still pliable, about 4 hours), saved one lb, and made the rest into this awesome, simple tomato sauce. I’ve been using it for all sorts of things since I made it this weekend — as a dipping sauce for cheesy bread, as pizza sauce, mixed with sauteed greens, eating it straight from the jar with a spoon… you know, the usual :)
The most time consuming part of this recipe is blanching and peeling the tomatoes. If you have a food mill, you can ENTIRELY skip this step! I didn’t use my food mill this time since I desired a chunky sauce, but I discovered the tomatoes break down so much while cooking that it would have been a wash texture-wise between blanching & skinning the tomatoes versus roughly chopping them with the skin and seeds and passing the mixture through a food mill (which removes skins and seeds) after cooking (but before adding the onions). Next time I have this many tomatoes I’ll definitely use the food mill and save myself about an hour of blanching and skinning. Live and learn.
Well, tomato season is upon us for probably 3-4 more weeks, and if you find you cannot exercise tomato self-control (similar to me) when confronted with a case of beautiful dry-farmed tomatoes, try this recipe and know that you will have delicious tomato sauce for weeks, months to come. Enjoy!
Roasted onions and garlic — I roasted one too many onions, but have been making great use of it on other things!