It happens every year: I get sick of fresh tomatoes. When those first ones come around the end of June, I can’t eat enough of them. I have them for every meal and snack. By the beginning of August, I’m still going strong but branching out a bit. This year, the growing season extended until last week! Grant and I finally called it quits and cleaned everything out of the garden. I set my green tomatoes out in a sunny window and waited for them to turn, which most of them did. The end of the season tomatoes never taste as good (whether that’s actually true or if absence just makes the heart grow fonder), so I used up all of those green-turned tomatoes to make lots of easy tomato sauce to add to marinara/pizza/enchilada sauces or soups over the winter.
It doesn’t get much easier and more flexible than this. This “recipe” is really just a formula, so feel free to experiment based on what you have on hand.
- If you core the tomato and then just squeeze its guts out, it removes most of the seeds. You’re left with the pulp of the tomato (and some seeds and juice too of course, but not nearly as much as you started off with). I have zero patience for extra steps, so I rarely worry about taking out the seeds and taking off the skins…which leads me to my next tip…
- The Vitamix (here’s mine) might be my favorite kitchen appliance (which is saying something since I have a bit of a thing for kitchen gadgets). It stays on the counter and gets used at least once a day. It was a hefty investment upfront, but it has paid for itself many times over. It is especially magic with tomatoes because it pulverizes them so completely that you couldn’t pick out any seeds or skin after the Vitamix is done with tomatoes even if you wanted to. I joke with Grant that in the case of a fire, after getting the kids and dog out, I think I would maybe go for the Vitamix. Is that bad? Yes, yes, it is.
- I strain the tomatoes of their juice any chance I get, even (especially?) when using canned tomatoes. That tomato juice is valuable stuff – never waste it down the drain! I freeze it in glass jars and never run out of ways to use it.
- Some ideas to use up your tomato sauce: pizza sauce (just use this instead of tomato paste and don’t add any water), taco sauce, easy addition to lots of soups/chilis.
easiest fresh tomato sauce (using up tomatoes)
- 5 pounds tomatoes (I used all sorts here - heirloom, cherry, plum, etc.)
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- 1-2 onions, diced
- 3-6 garlic cloves, sliced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- For a spicier sauce, maybe for chili or enchiladas/tacos, add a jalapeno or other hot pepper and some oregano.
- For a more traditional Italian sauce, add some fresh/dried herbs of your choice. I like basil, thyme, and oregano.
- When I'm making sauce like this, I core the tomatoes, and then squeeze their "guts" into a fine mesh strainer, so as to capture as much of the tomato juice as possible*. If you'd rather, you could just core the tomatoes and then throw them in the blender or food processor.
- Process the tomatoes in the blender/food processor until fine. I leave the skins on and whatever seeds are still around.
- Meanwhile, warm up a heavy-bottomed pot. I like my Dutch oven for this job. Pour in the olive oil and let it warm up a minute before adding in the onion (or two at our house). Saute the onions until they soften up. If you're using peppers, add them and let them soften up for an additional minute or two. Then add the garlic and whatever spices you're using. Saute briefly, and then add your pureed tomato mixture.
- Bring to a boil and then simmer for 45 minutes or so (the juicier the tomatoes, the longer it will take).
- After it has cooked down by about half, I freeze it in quart containers for easy weeknight meals.