August And Everything Tomato, part 3

Hand-colored block print, “Red” from the series for the book, Sustenance For A Wild Woman.  Limited edition, $65 

Combining dried and frozen (or fresh) into a thick, (relatively) quick, fresh-tasting sauce

>> prep time: active 5 min. per quart, passive 1-3 hr. for any amount

Place a bowl of warm water in the sink. Any size bowl will work, just change the water more frequently if it’s smaller.  Have another bowl or the cooking pot ready to receive the peeled tomatoes, a third small receptacle for the skins, and a fourth to start the process. To measure quantity, fill the future cooking pot with frozen tomatoes to slightly above the height you’d like to see the finished sauce come to. Do this exactly when you are ready to start working. Transfer them to bowl #4, so the cooking pot is ready to receive them when peeled.                                               

Put a handful of tomatoes in the water. Remove again one at a time almost immediately and slip off skins. If they sit in the water more than 30 seconds, the whole tomato will start thawing and some pulp will come away with the skin. That is the reason for only putting a few in the warm water at once. It will also work to put them in cold water instead, and adjust the wait time before skins start slipping off. They slip off of frozen tomatoes more easily and with less time and energy input than with the traditional blanching method. It is a very fast process.

Once everything is peeled, puree in a blender or processor, along with some dried tomatoes for a smooth sauce base without noticeable skin (only tiny flecks of what remained on the dried tomatoes).  For a chunky sauce. put some or all in the pot as is and gently break up later on. 

Proportion of dried to frozen tomatoes will vary somewhat depending on the type of tomato and the desired result, but try 1 part dried to 6 or 7 parts frozen, by volume. Set to simmer.

As soon as the dried tomatoes have absorbed the juice of the fresh-frozen ones, the sauce will be rich and thick, yet still fresh tasting. At this point, it’s possible to can all of the season’s tomatoes as puree, ready to use later. Or, leave the remaining harvest in the freezer and do the peel-and-blend process as needed for a meal.

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RED RED SAUCE                                                                                prep time: active 20 min., passive 40 min.

I have nothing groundbreaking to offer in the way of tomato recipes, but, being Italian, I will share my own red sauce recipe. It’s simpler than most, and a bit unusual.  It evolved out of the recipe inherited from my grandmother. She said, Never put onions in the sauce, it will taste like hamburgers.

This recipe depends on sweet red peppers. Good ones. If they exist in stores I haven’t been there at the right time. Good sweet red peppers have a good smell when cut open, an even better fragrance as they sauté, and an intensely marvelous flavor once cooked.  The flavorful ones are most reliably of the Corno D’Toro type, which are easily grown or found at a farmer’s market.  

1 qt fresh+dried tomato puree as created above

¾ cup diced sweet red peppers

½ cup of the best extra virgin olive oil you are willing to use. 

1-2 T. yellow summer squash flour (as described here). It’s perfectly fine to use zucchini flour, but it will dull the beautiful red color of the sauce. 

½ – 1 tsp salt

1 T minced fresh garlic

optional: A bit of hot chiles, to taste

Gently sauté the peppers on medium low, stirring regularly,  until they just start to turn golden in spots. Cooking slowly will heighten their flavor. 

Add the squash flour and salt. If you intend to add hot chiles, do so now. Squash flour adds an enriching sweetness as well as thickening the sauce. It needs to go in with the oil, before the tomato, just as conventional flour does in a roux. Stir well to break up any lumps.  As soon as the it is thoroughly dispersed in the oil, add the garlic. Cook just until the garlic releases its fragrance into the air and is starting to soften, but NOT to color,  About 1 minute.

When the garlic is perfect, add the tomato puree, bring to a simmer and cook gently, covered, for a half hour. At this point you can serve, but the sauce will continue to improve by sitting for a few hours off the heat. Serve hot.

Add chickpeas, some water, and a little more salt to this sauce and it’s an excellent soup.

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Wild Card, from The Cuisine Cards deck of 54, available here

Laurie Goodhart and her husband co-founded and operated two certified organic artisanal goat fromageries, Nettle Meadow in Warrensburg, NY from 1990 to 2005 and Domaine De Courval in Waterville, Quebec from 2006 to 2017. She created and trademarked the multiple award-winning cheese, Kunik. For more about her how her life experience brought her to develop time-saving ways to eat as much nutrient-dense food from her local environment as possible, see this previous post

Goodhart lives in upstate NY and continues her work as a professional artist and avid home gardener. Since 2007 she has devoted most of her studio time to an extensive body of work collected under the concept, Remnants And Residents Of A Lost Sanctuary Of Aphrodite.

A full-size sculpture of a perirranterion as envisioned in Laurie’s paintings, created in collaboration with ceramic artist Stephen Procter is installed on the grounds of the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge MA through October 31 2021.

Laurie can be reached through her website, lauriegoodhart.net

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