Is it a fruit or a vegetable? That’s the question I often ask myself while sorting freshly bought produce in the crisper bins of my icebox. I always seem to be momentarily stumped when I get to the tomatoes. Yes, they are technically classified as a fruit..or at least that’s what I’ve always known..but on the other hand, they are not eaten like a fruit, they are prepared and used like a vegetable. When I’m feeling rebellious, they go in the vegetable crisper with an indignant thump. When I’m feeling like being a perfectionist, they get safely tucked away in the fruit crisper. And on those days when I just can’t muster up the energy to think it through, they go wherever they will fit. And that’s that.
I have recently grown to love tomatoes. When I was a little girl, I wouldn’t touch them. But as I grow older I am learning that the many many things I turned my nose up as a girl, are resurfacing one by one and rocking my world in a completely new way. So as a result I have been eating a lot of tomatoes lately. Tomatoes are widely available in Texas and come in such a variety of species that they are virtually always in season. Another perk is that they are very versatile to cook with and can (when prepared cleverly) take on numerous tastes and textures. So with my new-found love for tomatoes and a few pounds of beautifully ripe Roma’s and Vines, I set out to make this tomato sauce. My first ever, and I must say I’m very pleased with how it turned out. I’d love to know, what vegetables or fruits you have come to love as a grown-up?
Homemade Tomato Sauce
My recipe is seasoned by a garlic and red pepper infused olive oil (we like it spicy), but you can easily add your favorite dried herbs during cook time. I recommend keeping it simple so you can use it for a wider variety of dishes.– 3-5 lbs. ripe tomatoes (Roma’s work well for a thicker sauce, but Vine tomatoes also give it a hearty flavor, so I used a mixture of both. Feel free to use whatever grows well in your hometown!)
– extra virgin olive oil -4 cloves garlic, minced *(optional) dried red pepper flakes – sea salt
1) Thoroughly clean/rinse your kitchen sink. Fill one side of the sink with HOT boiling water (from a tea kettle), and the other with COLD water and ice cubes.
2) Soak tomatoes in the hot bath for about 5 minutes, then transfer them to the ice bath. Let tomatoes soak until the skins crack and begin to peel. This will help loosen up the tomato skins so the skins can be easily removed with a small pairing knife.
*If the skin does not crack within about 5 minutes of being in the cold bath, return to hot bath and repeat this step again. Make sure your water temperatures stay hot/cold.
3) Peel skins completely and chop tomatoes in quarters. Puree in a blender or food processor until smooth. Careful not to over-blend or it will liquefy.
4) In a deep stew pot, drizzle olive oil to coat and form a thin puddle, when hot saute garlic and red pepper flakes. Add pureed tomatoes,sea salt to taste, and cook on low heat for 1-2 hours until the sauce is fully concentrated and thick. Cool and store in jars.
Recipe yields approx. 8 cups or 64 oz. Extra sauce stores well in the freezer for future use.