Saturday, September 22, 2012

Vegetable of the Week: Tomatoes!

Okay, so it's probably technically a fruit.  But most people consume it as a veggie, so it belongs here.  We're starting off easy, especially since tomatoes are probably my favorite vegetable and definitely one of the most versatile.

What did we do with tomatoes this week?  We ate them raw, sauteed them in oil, used them in place of bread, and canned our own homemade tomato sauce.  Talk about a treat!  We got really lucky with our tomatoes this week too.  The ones for the sauce came straight off a farm in Eastern Washington, and the rest were picked right out of my mother's garden.   The sauce tomatoes were Romas, and the rest were different varieties of cherries, and some beautiful heirlooms.  If you're eating tomatoes from the grocery store, you are really missing out.  Compared to garden-fresh tomatoes, store-bought tomatoes have basically no flavor at all.

The bounty out of my mother's garden.  Wish you could see the heirlooms!

One of my favorite ways to eat tomatoes is to saute the little cherry and grape tomatoes in a bit of butter or bacon fat.  I especially like this with my breakfast.   I've been slicing up the larger ones and eating them with tuna salad (per my sister's suggestion).  I also like to just roast them with some garlic and eat them on the side of whatever.

Recipe:  Homemade Tomato Sauce

This is how we made the tomato sauce for canning.  It made approximately 16 pint jars.  I'm not going to include the full directions for canning, but once you've made the sauce, you can either freeze it or can it in the standard method.  This blog has the full directions for canning.  Our recipe was a variation on this one, though.  We did not add salt or sugar, which are frequently used in canned tomato sauce recipes.  Sugar is an obvious omission, but we figured we could add our own salt to taste when we cook with it.


  • 30 lbs. fresh Roma tomatoes
  • 4 onions
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • handful of fresh oregano
  • handful of fresh basil, slivered
  1. Prep the tomatoes by washing them well, cutting off the blossom end, and then quartering them.  
  2. Chop the onion and the garlic finely (a food processor is good for this).
  3. Heat the oil in a large stockpot (we split ours between several pots).  Saute the onion and garlic to release the flavors.
  4. Add tomatoes in batches.  As the tomatoes heat up, they will shrink down, and you can add more tomatoes to the pots.  Add the herbs at this time as well.  Let the tomatoes cook until they have released juices and are reduced by about half.  
  5. Process the tomatoes using a food mill.  Most food mills are different, so follow the directions specific to your mill.  This step takes all the juice and pulp out of the tomatoes (and other seasonings) and leaves the skin and seeds behind.
  6. Once you've processed all the tomatoes, return your sauce to the stockpot and simmer until it is reduced by half.  This is when the tomato sauce becomes thick, rich, and incredible.  Make sure to taste it.  The difference between fresh tomato sauce from farm tomatoes versus store-bought canned tomato sauce will absolutely blow your mind!
  7. Can sauce according to approved method.
That's a lot of tomatoes!!
Processing the tomatoes with the food mill. 
The beautiful finished product.

What is your favorite way to eat tomatoes??  

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