Tomato Season = Tomato Sauce
It’s high tomato season here at Mano Farm, and each Sunday for the past few months we’ve been distributing pounds upon pounds to our CSA members. For two years running the star has been the Costoluto Genovese. We planted these in late March and for the second straight year have been impressed by the yields of this Italian heirloom. This is truly a production tomato for gourmet markets.
We pick the tomatoes again mid-week and process those for seed. We’ve been blanching (if you want to do this in with substantial volume, track down a blanching basket – I recently ordered this one), freezing, making sauce, and hopefully soon canning whatever’s left over.
One day this past week my brother popped into the farm and picked some tomatoes, and sent me a text message asking for a recipe he could reference. On the farm we’ve been making tomato sauce all season long, but I’d yet to formalize anything. I fumbled back some ingredients and general suggestions to him, then sent an email to my grandmother (Sitto), who spent much of her life as professional chef, and previously worked (among other places) at Canterbury Shaker Village, a historical landmark in Massachusetts. She responded with a recipe that her mother made.
She notes, “It is hard to recreate a recipe I have been doing for many years without measuring. It was all done by taste and should be from the cooks liking.” As I read these words I discovered a historical precedent for my disdain of using measurements in my cooking.
Nana’s Tomato Sauce Recipe
Sauté the following until limp in your oil of choice:
- 1 med sweet onion, diced
- 5 minced cloves garlic
- 3 pounds of fresh tomatoes (or, in the off-season 2 large cans), blended in a food processor.
- Sea salt & whole ground black pepper, to taste
Simmer for one hour, then add:
· A few sprigs of chopped fresh oregano
· and one bay leaf.
Simmer for about another half and hour or longer, check for flavor, and add more salt and pepper if needed; remove any larger seasoning debris, cut heat, enjoy with your favorite pasta, bread, integrate into a puttanesca, risotto or ratatouille.