Back to the basics…best tomato sauce from scratch (using home grown tomatoes)

I decided to make tomato sauce from scratch.
You would think with all the cooking that I do
it is something that I have already accomplished in the kitchen.
my “from scratch” tomato sauce, up till yesterday,
was a combination of canned tomatoes, spices & a little of my TLC.
However robustly tasty and satisfying it is/was…(& I will continue to make it I know on a regular basis)
I had never made tomato sauce starting from straight-off-the-vine
Jersey grown tomatoes.

20130723-134645.jpgTruthfully, it never really occurred to me, that I should try it.
Ironically, the “patchke” more than even I wanted to start with!
But life is funny these days…
Somewhere in these scorching days of summer, I have developed a bug.
An urge to really get back to basics… In everything, not just my cooking.
This past year has forced me to reevaluate, adapt with the changes…
Some by choice, some by sheer necessity.

Change is never easy…and I am a world class procrastinator..
But I made myself a promise this summer, that along with the heat…
I would start stripping off the baggage I carried all winter, and get back to the basics…
The core of who and what I am, want to be….

With every layer that I peel off
I find that I am really no closer to the answers I desperately seek…
But yet, It feels cathartic …
this slow peeling…
the mundane labor of doing it from scratch…
distracting me from the crazy that is my world
right now.

& because I have never done tomato sauce from actual tomatoes
that I can buy in my produce aisle,
is reason enough…
for me right now to try it.
How can I continue to let myself be thought of as the “at home gourmet” – making kosher & delicious from scratch cooking…simple
If there are things even I refuse to “patchke” with?

Living in jersey in the summer, near all these farms & markets
There really is no excuse not to take advantage of the glorious fresh
beautiful farm produce that is so readily available to me.
Also the added benefit of taking my Tunie B. with me ..
Making it a fun adventure…priceless.
Picking our own fruit & veggies & then getting ourselves into
the kitchen with our earth’s booty
& creating mouth-watering simple meals ..from literally the ground up.
These are summer memories implanted in our hearts…that will be with her & me
for the rest of our lives….no matter what may be.

After looking at quite a few different recipes, online & in my many cookbooks,
I knew right away I wanted to put together a recipe, that even if I didn’t have hours to kill
Slow cooking my tomato sauce
I still would have a a sauce that would make any Italian grandma proud.
So, I decided to be a rebel.
No squeezing of seeds, or pre-boiling my tomatoes…
I needed a one-pot solution with minimal fuss, but with gigantic tasty results…
Why not roast my tomatoes with oil, salt, pepper & fresh garlic first?
This way I not only get the added benefit of that earthy delicious roasted taste in my sauce…
my tomatoes would be easy to peel & half the “cooking” time would be needed.

Many of the recipes I looked at, also called for a base of onion, celery & carrots.
hesitant at first to use celery & carrots, I realized as my tomatoes were roasting
I would need something to make the sauce thick enough to “stick” to my pasta.
Not wanting to add any canned tomato paste, it was the best decision I made to use them.
The added vegetables made my sauce thick and even more flavorful.
(& because I only had shredded carrots in my fridge & always have washed prepped celery at the ready in a bag- I prep them right when I bring them home – it was a “simple” decision)

After a little over an hour & a quick shuzz from my handy dandy stick blender
I had a truly from scratch killer tomato sauce
Even though it was not the deep red color I would normally get
when using the canned tomatoes.. (Probably if I added a little tomato paste next time I would get the color)
It was a sauce that exceeded all my expectations.
Now I knew why the little patchke effort people make …is really so worth it.
Those original “ugly” tomatoes hid a deep rich flavor that was highlighted to perfection
when roasted and cooked into this outrageously tasty marinara.



For now, as long as I can this summer, I will be making this sauce.

The Best Roasted Tomato Sauce from Scratch

13-15 large Jersey tomatoes (3.5 – 4 lbs.)
10 cloves of garlic
3-4 tbsp. olive oil
1 large white onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled & diced
3 sticks of celery, diced
2 tsp. oregano
2 tbsp. sugar
Kosher salt & black pepper to taste
3 tbsp. chopped fresh basil

Pre-heat oven to 375 F
Slice the tomatoes in half. Lay the halved tomatoes seed down onto a large baking sheet.
Add the whole cloves of garlic to the pan, placing them in-between the sliced tomatoes.
Dribble the olive oil over the tomatoes & garlic, and season them well with the salt & pepper.
Place in oven & roast for about 25 minutes, until the tomatoes have softened & the skins have blackened.
While the tomatoes are roasting, sauté in a large sauce pot over medium flame, the onions, celery, & carrot in olive oil for about 10 minutes. When the vegetables, have softened, add the oregano, and season with some more salt & pepper. Lower the flame, cover the pot, and let them simmer until the tomatoes are done.
When the tomatoes are finished roasting, remove the skins, and cores, and dump the entire pan, with all its juices into the pot with the vegetables.
Using a hand blender, blend everything together until you have a thick purée of sauce.
Return the pot onto the stove, add the fresh basil, sugar mix and cook on medium-low for another 30 minutes. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
Serve warm over pasta.

Note: the longer you cook this sauce the better it gets, so I left it on low until I was ready to serve my pasta. Even then,  I left the leftover sauce on the stove till after the meal & then bottled it all up for the next time I need marinara.