Roasted Tomato Sauce

If I could have only one thing from a garden, it would be tomatoes.  Millions of them.  OK, maybe more like hundreds, or even just dozens ... but, tomatoes.  They are the reason I garden.

About a week ago, I found myself in possession of almost 30 pounds of tomatoes, all at once, all ripe.  I immediately wanted to eat every single one figure out a way to preserve one of my favorite things about summer because - I'll have to face it soon enough - winter is coming, and I'm going to need encouraging.  My friend Erin had told me that she had roasted some tomatoes and made a sauce, so I decided to try it myself.  Typical sauce-making methods call for lots more steps and time than I was willing to do - like, pureeing the solids FIRST and then boiling it for a few hours to cook off the liquids.  No, thanks.

You can make this with ANY amount of tomatoes you have - don't think that because you aren't starting with sinkfuls of tomatoes you can't do it. Also, you can adjust the other veggies you add in there - I did a batch with sweet potatoes and zucchini instead of carrots; I also think that adding more onions or garlic would make a really fantastic sauce. 

Roasted Tomato Sauce

10 lb. tomatoes
2 lb. carrots
2 sweet peppers
1 onion
2-3 cloves garlic
2-4 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper

Wash and place in a roasting pan: tomatoes with stem core removed, carrots and peppers, quartered onions, and peeled garlic cloves.

Drizzle olive oil over the vegetables, and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.  Stir to coat everything.

Roast at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes or until the tomatoes have split and released their juices, and some of the other vegetables are golden brown.

Place a large colander over a large bowl; scoop out the roasted vegetables into the colander.  Let it sit and drain for 10-15 minutes.  You can gently press on the solids a bit if you need to to let the extra liquid drain out.  I highly suggest saving the liquids to use for cooking rice, braising meat, or as a soup base (I did all three).  If you're not sure what to use it in, consider substituting it whenever a recipe calls for some kind of broth.

Now, puree the solids in a blender or food processor, or with a stick blender. 

Freeze or can the sauce, according to your preference. 

Word to the wise: consider freezing it in the amount that you think you'd use at a time instead of in one giant ziploc bag.  Since we eat a lot of pizza (this kind or this kind or this kind), I freeze it in little 1/2 cup amounts - just enough for pizza sauce for two pizzas - so that I can thaw out what I'm actually going to use.  I also prefer to can tomato sauce in smaller jars for the exact same reason.  Also, it lasts longer that way. 

If we eat pizza once a week, I think I'll have enough sauce to last until March.  Summer will carry me through winter.  Encouraging, indeed.


Quick Pizza Dough from Scratch (or, Zero to Pizza in an Hour)

Yield: 2 10-inch pizza crusts

Make pizza from scratch!
2 3/4 to 3 1/4 c. all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast (one package)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. warm water (120-130 degrees)
2 Tbsp. cooking oil

In a mixing bowl combine 1 1/4 c. flour, yeast, and salt; add warm water and oil.  Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly.  Beat on high speed for an additional 3 minutes.

Using a wooden spoon, stir in as much remaining flour as needed.  On a lightly-floured surface, knead in enough flour to make a moderatly stiff dough, about 5 minutes.  (I do this step in my stand mixer - I attach the dough hook and add the remaining flour about 1/2 cup at a time until it's well incorporated.  Once I've gotten a stiff, not too sticky dough, I let the mixer do the kneading.  If it's too dry and flaky (like, maybe I accidentally added too much flour there at the end), I add some warm water one teaspoon at a time.)

Divide into two pieces; cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

Shape each piece into a 10-inch pizza crust; add sauce and toppings/cheese of choice.  Bake at 425 for 14-18 minutes, or until crust is brown and cheese is bubbly.

I've been absent for a month and a half ... and I return with pizza.  I bet you thought that I was working on some really amazing culinary creation, which would explain my lack of posts.  But, no.  Pizza.  Delicious, easy, homemade pizza.

What's that?  Wondering what I've been doing?  Well, I'm so glad you asked.  See, I have these two kids I get to hang out with, who are really awesome and precious and energetic and talkative.  That's what I've been up to, instead of cooking and blogging.

We have been filling our summer days with so many wonderful things that DON'T involve hot kitchens.  Let me just be real: we have eaten a ridiculous amount of hummus and cheese sandwiches.  I couldn't bring myself to blog a sandwich recipe, but I'm pretty sure that 5 out of 7 days a week involved hummus and cheese on a tortilla or bread (or crackers if I really wanted to be zippy).

We've been eating a lot of picnic dinners at the playground that's right next door to our community garden plot.  Enter sandwiches again (and how could I keep sharing sandwich recipes?  Really.  No one wants those.)

We were out of hummus (oh no!) but still needed a picnic dinner, so in came the pizza.  I didn't have the forethought to make my go-to pizza crust in the bread machine, but I remembered a recipe my friend Cindi shared in a group cookbook we did back in 2010.  The pizza came together - from thought to hot-out-of-the-oven - in less than an hour.  Not bad!

So, that's why there's pizza.  Because it was quick, and portable, and delicious, and easy for the kiddos to grab between sliding and swinging at the playground.

A few other things from the summer:

All of a sudden, Little Sister decides she'll master climbing up into her booster chair.  Like, she wasn't doing it, and then she was.  These kids.  Stop the crazy changing already!

Tomatoes!  And baskets.  Both endeavors are keeping me so happily busy.

And just a few more: special time with some really, really special people ...