Homemade Tomato Sauce

Gravy? Tomato Sauce? Red Sauce? Whichever way you slice it, it all equals tomatoes that you simmer for a few hours with various spices, sometimes with meat, sometimes for fish, and sometimes for simply pasta. In my house, we use them all interchangeably. A good red sauce is just that. A good red sauce. I tried to do my grandma proud today by spending my Monday off making sauce from scratch. I’ve been making sauce since I was in diapers (maybe a little older), but only from the can. (Tuttorosso is my favorite, my grandma preferred Red Pack- we all have our preferences). Today I decided to challenge myself. Here’s the recipe! My house smelled delicious all day.

-Because it was my first time making tomato sauce, I used a very little amount of tomatoes and came out with a very little amount of sauce. My parents would suggest using at least 20 tomatoes- I’ll give you the recipe for 10 (which is what I used)-

Ingredients

-10 Whole Tomatoes (I used five Plum and five Tomatoes on the Vine. Heirloom would probably taste amazing)
-1/2 Large Yellow Onion
-5 Cloves of Garlic, chopped
-Basil
-Parsley
-Olive Oil

What You Do
Prepare your Workstation!
-Fill a large sauce pan with water to boil and fill a large  bowl with ice and water and set next to the stove. You’ll have to blanche the tomatoes.

(Blanching is when you remove a vegetable from boiling water and shock it in an ice bath- this helps maintain the color of the vegetable you are using)

-Place a cutting board right next to the Ice Bath, use your sharpest knife (be careful not to cut yourself like I did)



-Core the tomatoes and cut an “X” into the bottom- this will help the peeling process.

-Prepare the onion and garlic- Cut the onion at the top and the bottom, remove the skin. Then dice the onion. You can either roughly chop the garlic or dice it. I prefer to roughly chop it because I love whole garlic. Put them aside in separate bowls.

-Boil the tomatoes a few at a time, when they look a little shriveled up and deep lines appear in the skin, remove them with a slotted spoon and put into the ice bath for at least 5 minutes. Continue this process until the tomatoes are all blanched.


-Remove the tomatoes from the ice bath and peel on the cutting board. Discard the skin.


-Cut the tomatoes in half and put them to the side. Set up a strainer on top of a bowl. Next step is seeding!

-To seed, take half of your tomato and grip gently. Hold it over the strainer and bowl apparatus that you’ve made and scoop the seeds out gently one side at a time. Continue until all of the tomatoes are seedless!

-Dice your tomato halves, scoop half of the diced tomatoes into a blender and lightly  blend. Set the other half aside.

-On the stove using the same sauce pot, ditch the water and add Olive Oil to just coat the bottom of the pan. Bring to a medium heat.

-Add the onions and simmer for 3-5 minutes, or until you smell that sweet onion scent. Add the basil and parsley, then add the garlic.

(We always add garlic second because it burns much easier than onions)

-Add the juice from the strained tomato seeds, the puree, and the diced tomatoes to the sauce and stir. Bring to a boil, then set to simmer. Add salt and pepper to taste!


– You’ll notice that the sauce is very watery. Loose sauce for fish is preferred, but if you’re looking for that thick sauce, you can simmer it for 1-2 hours on low, or, if you’re in a rush, add flour (like a roux) slowly stirring. You should see it thicken right up!

A good Italian never rushes their sauces. I started this at 10 am. It is now 1:30 and I am sitting here writing this post, waiting for my sauce to simmer. I’m going to add shrimp and some vegetables to it! I bought some whole wheat pasta because I am much too lazy to go the whole nine today and make homemade pasta- although I can write a blog post on that in the future!

Making sauce is fairly easy, yet a little bit time consuming. You can always make it your own and add pepper or meat for a bolognese. If you’re looking for that hearty “Sunday Sauce” with braciole and meatballs, I recommend simmering the meatballs and braciole before you add the sauce in the same pot- you’ll get that amazing fatty flavor.

Hope you learned a few things and hope your sauce comes out as good as mine did!

Ciao!

Friday Night Eats

Let me just start off by saying that I saw Alton Brown Live last night. Yes, the Alton Brown- creator of the Astropop and cocktail slushies (with gin, sweet vermouth, and cough syrup), singer, songwriter, guitar player, converse wearing’ comedian, and host of Cutthroat Kitchen and Good Eats. Check out his show, Eat Your Science! You’ll leave with a basket full of knowledge and probably a few stitches in your side from laughing. You’ll also start saying “food for thought” a lot the next day… Or maybe that’s just me. Moving on…

My inspiration for tonight’s dinner came from Alton Brown and this little burger joint called Smashburger. Alton Brown, proclaimed Food God (Vote for him in November), spoke a whole lot about chicken thighs.

“Who doesn’t like chicken thighs?!”- Alton Brown and everyone else in the world.

At Smashburger, I got a chicken, spinach and goat cheese sandwich, and their smashfries. Smash fries have rosemary, olive oil, and garlic on them. Why I never thought to put rosemary and garlic on my fries in an Italian household in beyond me. Kudos to Smashburger.

 

As we were coming home, I bored my friend with the ideas running through my head for what would be tonight’s dinner. I call this one Chicken, Spin-Smash, & Potatoes. Not the best name, but can’t fault me for trying, right?
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Chicken, Spin-Smash, & Potatoes

What You Need

-6 Chicken Thighs (Skin On)
– Fresh Rosemary
– Granulated Garlic Powder
– Sea Salt & Pepper
– Dried Basil
– Spinach Leaves (I used one bundle for two people)
– 1 tablespoon flour
– 1/3 cup lemon juice
– 1 cup vegetable stock
– 5 Potatoes (for two people, with leftovers!)
– Crumbled Blue Cheese
– 1/2 a stick of butter
– 1/2 cup of the milk of your choice

What You Do

Preheat oven to 375°

Take chicken thighs from the packaging and wash them. Then place them in an aluminum baking pan skin side up, bone side down. Chop 2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary and sprinkle over chicken. Sprinkle garlic powder (to taste), sea salt, pepper, and basil on the top.
Place in the oven. Bake for 45-50 minutes. Then flip and bake for 20 more minutes. How easy!

chix

 

Place a pot of water up to boil. Prepare your potatoes. Wash them, and then peel. Dice them evenly and place into boiling water. Give a quick stir, and sprinkle in some salt.

While your potatoes are boiling, start the spinach. Clean in a colander and shred. Put the vegetable broth in a pan, heat for 2 minutes, then add spinach and stir to coat. In about 5 minutes, add lemon juice and 4 sprigs of rosemary (I used more because I love lemon, it’s really up to you). When the spinach is wilted, gradually add the flour and stir. You will be left with a creamy spinach, lemony delight.

 

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You’ll know the potatoes are done when you can successfully put a fork through them without any resistance. You can then strain them, and add them back into the pot. Add the butter and, using a masher, mash and stir until butter is melted. Add your milk and stir until incorporated. Then, add 1/2-1 cup of the crumbled blue cheese. Taste, add more if needed.

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Once your chicken skins are crispy, take them out of the oven. You now have a smashing meal on your hands (think Nigel Thornberry, and maybe Smashburger, too).

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The Finished Product!

Life Hack: Peel the potatoes over a garbage can- it makes for less of a mess!