Monday, August 22, 2011

tomato love

My diet recently has been a disgusting morass of Bobo's Drive-In (at least I'm keeping it local!), Chipotle (but they say the pork is free-range!), and Hardee's (no excuse here).  I was despairing that I would have nothing to share with you for Munchee Monday today!  Then, I remembered the insane amount of tomatoes we've been receiving from our CSA share.  One of the challenges and highlights of eating seasonally and locally is that you get dumped with one crop at a time - and have to figure out what to do with it.  My goal is always to use, freeze, or preserve everything before it goes bad.  I've done . . . okay.  I give myself a B+. 

Let me pause here to tell you the saddest fact in the world.  My husband hates tomatoes.  Something about the texture, blah blah blah. 

So, I've been left to work alone through no less than three to four pounds of tomatoes a week for the past month.  I eat them raw, in sandwiches, in BLTs.  I make salsa, tomato sauce, and tomato paste.  Tomato paste is especially handy because it uses many tomatoes and boils them down to almost nothing. 

One thing I hate about making tomato sauce and salsa, though, is peeling the tomatoes.  What a waste of time and a senseless steaming up of my kitchen.  So instead, I've started making the sauce or salsa without peeling and then pureeing it all in the food processor.  Works like a charm!  I've currently got four quart-size jars of this tomato sauce in the freezer.  I'm still afraid of canning, and buying a huge vat to give myself a steam bath in the kitchen sounds really unappealing. 

Tomato Sauce
1 T olive oil
4 cups tomatoes, hard stems and cores cut out, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped fine
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 C water
6 oz tomato paste
1 t dried basil or as much fresh as you want
1 t dried oregano
1 t red pepper flake (less if you don't like spicy)
salt and pepper

Saute the green pepper, onion and garlic in the oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat until very soft and translucent.  Add the tomatoes, water, tomato paste and spices.  Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer, covered, for a long time - up to an hour.  Then unlid and simmer for another half an hour.  Check the seasonings periodically and add salt and pepper to taste.  I usually cut the heat after awhile and just let it thicken and come to room temperature for several hours at this point.  Then, puree in the food processor in batches and pour into a jar.  Makes one quart-size jar.  58 calories per half-cup serving.

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