Making Your Own Rustic Tomato Sauce

Every so often I’ll run into a reader who says something like, “I love reading your blog, but I just don’t have time to cook like that.”   I’m sure there are a few recipes on here for which that’s true.  Sometimes I just take a day and spend it in the kitchen.  That’s relaxing and rewarding for me.  I know that’s not true for everyone.  Or someone will say that they’d love to cook more, but they don’t know how.  Today I’m going to dispell the myth that your only option is tomato sauce out of a jar if you’d really prefer to have something else.  Not much time or expertise required.

Making fresh tomato sauce does take some time, but not really much effort.  I know, already you’re thinking about having to boil water and make an ice water bath so you can peel the tomatoes.  Or having to use a food mill to get the peels off and the seeds out.  Nope.  This is a rustic tomato sauce.  I leave the seeds in and the tomatoes in big pieces.  All you really have to do is cut the cores and bad spots out of the tomatoes and do a rough chop on some garlic and some herbs.  If you want to cut the time even further use garlic out of a jar and dried spices from the store.

Let’s talk just a minute about the tomatoes.  This is the time to make this sauce.  The fresh, local tomatoes are in and the flavor is amazing.  Cooking them down just intensifies the flavor.  If you do this with store bought tomatoes in the Winter you’ll be disappointed.  Sauce tomatoes don’t have to be as perfect as sandwich tomatoes.  The tomatoes I’m using today are Jetsetter, Cherokee Purple and Hanover tomatoes.  I picked them several days ago and they’re starting to get a little soft.  Don’t throw those softies away – make sauce!

Let’s do a step-by-step.  Start with some good quality olive oil in the pan.  Leave the tomatoes in big pieces.    No reason to chop more than you have to.  I cut these smaller than necessary.  This is the point where I put in the chopped garlic and the herb if I’m using dried herbs.

Here’s the thing about the peels.  As the tomatoes cook down the peels will begin to blister.

You can remove peels as you see them or wait until the end and lift them out with a spoon.  The larger your tomato pieces in the beginning the faster this process will be.  This is the point where I add fresh herbs and salt if I’m using either or both.

Then let the sauce cook down until you can move it away from the sides of the pan, but not until all the liquid is cooked out.

Done!  See, easy  – and so, so yummy!

It took about an hour for this to cook down.  I wasn’t making very much so it all fit in the cast iron skillet.  If you’re making a lot of course it will take longer.  It will keep about a week in the fridge or a few months in the freezer.  Freeze it in Ziploc freezer bags if you’re short on freezer space.

So, the next time you’re spending a day at home with a sick kid or a sick pet or to clean the house or just because you need a day at home, throw some tomatoes in a pan with some garlic and herbs.  By the time you’re done with the vacuuming or a load of laundry or two – or as many episodes of Sponge Bob as you can reasonably be expected to endure – you’ll have homemade tomato sauce.

Let me know how it turns out!

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