* The Love Story *
Jane and I are avid local farm supporters. I must have fresh ingredients and what is fresher than my local farmer picking tomatoes from the vine the very day I make fresh plum tomato sauce! It’s a win-win for me and the hard working farmer.
The tomatoes in this recipe were picked at Ken’s Farm, right on Street Road in Warrington, Pennsylvania. I go to his farm three times a week. I love to cast my eye over the vegetable field and watch his son carefully pick the ripest vegetables, fill wood baskets and walk these beauties up the hill to the little stand by the road. I strike up a conversation with Ken. He tells me a story about when he first worked this field with a friend. When it was time for lunch, Ken would pick tomatoes, peppers, onion, basil, olive oil; season them good and wrap all in a big aluminum foil package and place it over a fire. Ken just loves vegetables. He tells me that he is learning every year; about planting in stages, and how he tends the field. While he is talking, I can see the chicken coop beyond the field. I turn to Jane, “Hey Jane, grab a couple dozen organic eggs while you’re picking up the cantaloupes”. Ken goes on telling me that his baby yellow cherry tomatoes sell out faster than he can pick them; he just can’t keep up with demand. A good problem for sure. “Hey Jane, get me that last basket of the little yellow cherry tomatoes while your grabbing that watermelon”.
It’s so much fun knowing that my end product will succeed with such outstanding fresh product. Thanks Ken.
~ Story & Recipe by Bruce
* Plum Tomato Sauce Recipe *
This is a great versatile sauce for any pasta, lasagna, cheese raviolis; a great dipping sauce for fried food. Admittedly, I love this sauce as dip for French fries (chefs would never admit that, but it is soooo good).
Preparing the plum tomatoes:
You need about 2 quarts peeled and deseeded fresh plum tomatoes.
Start with about 4 quarts whole fresh plum tomatoes and after blanching and deseeding, you will end up with the 2 quarts needed for this recipe.
(I highly recommend preparing the tomatoes before gathering the other ingredients).
See the photos for how to successfully blanch, peel and deseed fresh plum tomatoes.
When blanching tomatoes, the water should be boiling. Start with one gallon boiling water in a large stock pot. Place about 6 tomatoes at a time in the boiling water. Remove after 30 seconds and place in an ice bath. Continue until all tomatoes are blanched.
Using a paring knife, remove the skins keeping the peeled tomatoes in a bowl to save all the juice. Discard the skins.
Then cut each tomato in half. Using the other end of a spoon, scrape out the seeds into another bowl. When all the tomatoes are halved and seeded, pour the seeds into a strainer and capture the juice. Discard the seeds.
Pureeing the plum tomatoes:
I prefer to use the food processor to save time, instead of hand chopping. I puree about 2 cups of the halved tomatoes at a time thus avoiding big chunks or over pureed tomatoes. I recommend pulsing the food processor. When I was a chef, I saw cooks use a buffalo chopper to puree the tomatoes (overflow was common). I saw some cooks use a meat grinder (red rain across the kitchen); a stick mixer (takes practice accomplishing uniformity). At home, I am not making 20 gallons, so the food processor works just fine.
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup chopped garlic
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup diced onion
1/4 cup tomato paste
The 2 quarts pureed plum tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried oregano or 2 tsp chopped fresh oregano
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
A few grinds of the peppermill
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
Making the sauce:
- Place a 6 quart enamel coated or anodized aluminum pot on a very small flame.
- Add olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes
- Sautee until the garlic starts to sizzle- do not burn the garlic.
- Add the onions and sauté while stirring until the onions are translucent
- Add the tomato paste and stir well until the paste is incorporated. Cook about 2 minutes.
- Add the plum tomatoes and stir thoroughly.
- Add the remaining ingredients except for the fresh basil
- Cook on low flame, stirring often for about an hour or two until the sauce reduces and starts to thicken. You may place the pot in the oven and cook the sauce, but I prefer to stir often and keep an eye to prevent over cooking.
- Add the fresh basil and stir. Check for salt. If you think the sauce is a bit acidic for your taste, you may add 1 Tblsp of unsalted butter
- Allow to cool for about an hour
- I prefer to store the sauce in glass, CorningWare, or enamel coated cookware. Avoid plastic storage containers if possible.
- Enjoy The Freshest Tomato Sauce you every had!