Thursday, February 23, 2012

My version of Tomato Sauce

I happen to make sauce in rather large batches so I can freeze it and use it for a ton of different recipes.  I use it for grilled pizzas, lasagna, pasta, eggplant parm, stuffed name it, if it involves a tomato sauce,  this is what I use.  I rarely make it on a week day when I have a multitude of other responsibilities, namely my three amazing children.  I'm sure at least some of you know where I'm coming from.  Things like sauce or chili making are weekend things for me.  If you can work it into your week then I applaud you...standing ovation even!  I cannot.
I really enjoy cooking, it's no secret to the people who know and love me.  I cook for my family 5-6 nights a week and most of those nights I am pretty organized.  The thing is, I really enjoy hunkering down and making a more involved recipe on the weekends when my husband is home to help hold down the fort.  As I type it occurs to me that there is wine in my sauce and beer in my chili and while both happen to take me a while to produce is there a correlation?  Crap.

Here's what you need:

  • 15 cloves of peeled garlic (you're going to roast these little suckers)
  • 5 portabella mushrooms, chopped
  • 5 peppers (red, green bell, whatever is in your fridge!) chopped
  • 5 carrots (about 2 cups) grated
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup red wine (I use cab sav since it's my favorite to drink!)
  • 6 pounds of tomatoes (in season or canned)
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon basil, dried
  • 1 tablespoon oregano, dried
  • Salt and Pepper

So get your oven cranked up to 375℉ first of all.  Then move your way over to the garlic, and be gentle already.  Don't do that quick little smash with your knife trick so they bust all up, this isn't the time or the place for it.  Peel with care.

I roast the garlic with Olive Oil, S & P in some tinfoil (make a little package out of it) and by the time the veggies are chopped and roasted so is the garlic.

I keep the mushrooms on one sheet pan with Olive Oil, S & P.

And peppers on another with the same Oil, S & P.  I end up roasting these veggies for 35-45 minutes.  Give both a little toss half way through.

Next, I take the onions and toss them in the stockpot with Olive Oil, S & P.  I keep the heat on medium/medium low and add in the bay leaves and red pepper flakes.
 After about 15 minutes, the onions should be getting all caramelly (it should totally be a word), this is when you add those roasted garlic cloves.  Do not waste one drop of that oil either...dump it all in the pot!  This is now the point where you are not to be delicate with the garlic, break them up with your spoon people!  I let the onions and garlic go for another 5 minutes or so and then comes the wine.  Since your wrist is in the pouring position you might as well get a glass and fill it...this recipe only uses 1 cup out of the bottle, please don't let the rest go to waste.  Let the wine cook out a minute then add the carrots.If it's tomato season, you should have been chopping like a mad person, if not, then get a great canned brand.  Add the six pounds either way.  Stir.

Those roasted veggies should be lonely by now...introduce them to the stock pot.
Turn your heat down to low and let that baby simmer.  While you're waiting (and it will be a while) you can chop the parsley.  Pour another glass of wine if you're empty.
After 30 minutes add the dried herbs.  Simmer an hour, stirring occasionally, then off to the food processor it goes. 

There's a lot in that stock pot, think batches.  In my opinion sauce should have a wee bit of chunk to it, don't puree the hell out of it.Now taste.  Does it need S?  P?  Yes.  Add it.  While you're at it, get the parsley in there too.  Give it a good stir and there you have it.

I always plan something for dinner that utilizes the fruits of my labor and the rest gets frozen.  Do yourself a favor...get some zip top type bags, large ones, and portion it all out.  I beg of you, for your own sanity, make sure you are using a quality freezer bag!  And don't forget to label it either!  This recipe takes some time, don't waste it with bags that won't protect your investment.  I put the bags on a sheet pan, flat, and to the freezer they go.  Once they are frozen I can then stand them up in my freezer to save some space.  Since I am freezing the lot, I usually add fresh basil to the defrosted batch as I need it.
Bon's time to eat!


  1. I know from experience your sauce is amazing! But, what would you suggest someone do if they don't have a food processor, other than go out and buy one?

    1. you have a blender? Just go slow with it so you can judge the texture. Otherwise what about a stick blender? They are relatively inexpensive and easy to store. They sell them at Bed Bath and Beyond and with a coupon they are around $40.