March 29, 2010

Roasted Tomato Sauce - Part I of "I can't stop cooking and eating Italian food!"

This is the first in a 341 part series about my obsession with Italian food since I came home from my trip! Please send a crane to lift my ass out of my chair.

Just kidding! Kind of.

I think I am over my Italian food obsession now. I can eat other cuisines without feeling like I'm wasting an entire meal on something that doesn't include tomatoes, basil or mozzarella cheese. For instance, I am planning a deck party for this week to celebrate the nice weather, and I am thinking about making pulled pork sandwiches. ***As an entirely unrelated side note: This is how in tune my brother and I are...I think it has something to do with being reared by the same pack of wild dogs...I printed my recipe for pulled pork off of my blog this morning (this is also a very convenient way for me to keep all my recipes in one place!), and then my brother just called me 30 seconds ago and asked me a question about substituting something in my pulled pork recipe because HE IS MAKING THEM RIGHT NOW! He is half way across the country and we are thinking alike. Crazy, huh? I think I have him and Lyndi addicted to my blog. I imagine it is something like being addicted to a soap opera. They didn't start reading it until a couple of weeks ago, and I can picture them sitting down at night, after dinner, and reading my blog archives in their pajamas with a bowl of popcorn. By the way, he thinks I just stop all of this blogging nonsense, and just start a website with recipes. Little does he know that I am protecting both of our waistlines by not strictly posting about food.

Anyway, back to the food. And back to my brother. Remember I told you in this post about how my brother gave me four giant bags of frozen tomatoes from his garden (my tomatoes got blossom end rot because I neglected them. I am a terrible, terrible person)? I used my second-to-last bag last Sunday (as in 8 days ago) to make homemade roasted tomato sauce. It actually had a similar flavor to my homemade tomato basil soup, but I changed the process a little bit, thickened up the consistency, and added some homemade Italian sausage...then I served it over whole wheat rotini with shaved Parmesan cheese. YUM!

Here is the basic recipe (As usual, I use this term loosely):
Roasted Tomato Sauce
  • 3-4 pounds whole tomatoes (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 medium sized onion (I always use yellow onions. Unless it calls for red.)
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • a couple of sprigs of oregano
  • a couple of sprigs of thyme
  • lots of basil...I used probably about 1.5 cups, if you packed the leaves in there
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 1+ tablespoon of sugar
  • kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • Pizza and Pasta Magic (optional)
Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees*. Cut the tomatoes in half, peel the garlic cloves, and cut the onion into large chunks. Throw all of this into a zip-top bag, add the olive oil, sprinkle in some salt, pepper, sugar, and Pizza and Pasta Magic. Shake it like a Polaroid picture! Ha ha - or just mix it around until everything is coated with the OO. Then, dump the contents of the bag onto a large baking sheet (flip the tomatoes if needed so that the cut side is up), and stick the sprigs of oregano and thyme throughout the mixture. Put it all into the oven and roast for 3 - 4 hours*. Transfer all of the contents of the roasting pan into a large dutch oven (including all the juices), add the basil and bring it to a soft boil, reduce heat and simmer for a little bit (I let it simmer for about an hour because I was making chicken noodle soup at the same time. It's called multi-tasking), then hit it with the immersion blender (or put it in a regular blender or food processor) to smooth out the texture (If you don't have any one of these, make sure to mince your garlic and onions before you roast them, and chop your basil before you add it. Then you can just mash it with a potato masher or the back of a big spoon to break down the tomatoes). Once it is at your desired consistency, season it to taste. You could add more salt, pepper, sugar, or Italian seasonings. Then just let it cook for another 30 - 60 minutes. I don't know why, but for some reason it doesn't matter how much seasonings you add, it doesn't get the desired flavor unless you just let it cook!

At this point, you have several options. If you want, you can be done. Cook up some of your favorite pasta (I would use something delicate, like angel hair or orzo) and serve this with some Parmesan cheese on top. Or, you can add things to make it more substantial. For instance, at this point I took half of the sauce as is, and put it in the freezer for future consumption (maybe over cheese stuffed tortellini), then with the remaining half, I made it more man-friendly (I added meat). Steve's family makes homemade Polish and Italian sausage every year, so I browned up some bulk Italian and threw it in. You could also add mushrooms, ground beef, or any combination of those things. Or, if you were really feeling crazy, you could use this as the sauce for chicken parmesan. Just make sure to check the flavor after you make any addition! So fresh, so delicious. Enjoy!

*There are so many different ways to roast tomatoes...anywhere from putting them in the oven at 400 degrees for 45 minutes, to putting them in at 200 degrees for 7 hours. It depends on how much time you have. I find that 325 degrees for 3 - 4 hours is somewhere in the middle. Either way, your house will smell phenomenal while they are roasting.

Printable Recipe

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