When life gives you iffy tomatoes, make tomato sauce!

It’s another beautiful day here in the Midwest.  The cicadas are driving me crazy.  I think it’s an unusually loud year of cicadas.  I keep forgetting to write to my favorite entimoligist at the Missouri Extension office to ask if it really is a big year for them. The hummingbirds soothe my soul.  They are here only a short while and they are delightful.

I had to go out and tend (cut down) the runaway tomato plants.  It was a bumper crop for plants, but not so good for the actual tomatoes.  The plants bent the staking and were almost six foot tall.  They were gorgeous! It’s my understanding that the copious amounts of rain, wind, and heat that we got during mid-summer kept the plants from pollinating.  No pollination, no tomatoes.  That’s as far as I am willing to go to describe a birds and bees event on a food blog.  I did get a few tomatoes.  By a few, I mean the grand total was less than ten.  Oh well, there is always next year!

I still had homegrown tomatoes.  Mr. Wii bought some from somebody at work who had enough to sell.  I went to the Kansas City City Market over the weekend and bought some.  Come Monday morning, all were in the iffy stage.  Iffy means: not so good for salad or sandwiches, but not rotten.  I use the term for lots of fresh produce. I also had two quart bags in the freezer of tomatoes left from last year.  Last year was a bumperiffic year for tomatoes.  It will go down in history as ’09, the year of the tomato!

I decided to make tomato sauce with the iffy bunch.  I had about twelve tomatoes.  I didn’t even peel them.  I just cut out the “more than iffy spots” and chunked them up and tossed them in the pan.

 I had also added the last two little bags of tomatoes from last year which were in the freezer.  Olive oil, onion, red pepper, and garlic rounded out the sauce.  I let it cook for three hours and then tasted and adjusted the flavor with a bit of sugar, snipped in some fresh basil, salt and pepper, white wine, and some of the Gilroy Garlic Festival Garli-Garni. I froze what I didn’t use for spaghetti sauce for some other yummy dish in the future.

This tomato sauce would be good for chili, spaghetti sauce, or a fresh addition to soup.  Anywhere you would use the canned tomato sauce, you could use this.  I made it into spaghetti sauce by adding some of my very favorite Garli-Ghetti seasoning from Gilroy Garlic Festival.  I topped the spaghetti with some freshly grated parmagiano reggiano and dinner was served.  How easy was that!

I order the Garli-Ghetti and the Garli Garni from the Gilroy Garlic Festival.  They don’t know who I am, but rest assured, I know who they are!  My kitchen is never without this stuff.

Here is what I did to make the sauce, and, I wrote it down as I went.  Please feel free to make any adjustments to quantities as you see fit.  After all, that’s what cooking is all about!

Tomato Sauce from Homegrown Tomatoes

12-15 really ripe tomatoes, chunked up
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped fine
1 medium purple onion, chopped fine
1 1/2 red bell peppers, chopped fine (it’s what I had on hand)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons Gilroy Garlic Festival Garli-Garni (your favorite Italian seasoning would work just fine)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/3 cup white wine (I used Robert Mondavi Sauvignon Blanc, there was just enough left in the bottle)
1 generous Tablespoon granulated sugar
a few grinds of fresh black pepper
10 leaves of fresh basil, snipped
2 teaspoons dried parsley (I had used up the fresh parsley yesterday)

                     In a Dutch oven or any other large pot, heat up the olive oil on med/hi heat. 

Add the onions and garlic to the hot oil and saute until the onions are soft. Then, add the bell pepper.  Saute until soft.  Dump in the tomatoes, lower the heat medium heat, and cook for about two hours.  Stir once in a while. 

After two hours, add your seasonings, herbs, salt and pepper, and wine. I then used the immersion blender to puree the sauce. Not too much, you do not want a total liquid state. Taste with a piece of bread to see what it may need more of. (I know I am not supposed to end a sentence with a preposition, but this is cook talk!) Turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for at least another hour.  Two hours would be best.  At this point, you will have the best tomato sauce in the world. Let it cool down before transferring to containers to freeze.  It should keep well in the freezer for 3-6 months.  Can be used immediately for making spaghetti sauce, which is what I did with half of it.  I froze the other half.

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