Little White Lie (aka Slow Roasted Tomato Sauce)
As an innkeeper/bartender I was surrounded by people all day. Most of them were really lovely. (Really). As a bartender/ host I made small talk, and big talk, and all kinds of talk. I organized and oversaw and coordinated and chatted and smiled and sympathized and had a good time doing it. Most of the time. You know, people are generally really, really great. Interesting, quirky, kind and enjoyable. Sometimes they complain, they are grumpy, their expectations are not met, their life has taken a rough turn and you are standing there, it has rained on them all day and you smile the wrong way. I mean, sometimes I made mistakes – I’m sure you’ll hear about those at some point. My point here is that sometimes you just happen to be there and someone needs to unload. Sometimes you cannot get it right.
Anyway, that was a tangent. I started this here to talk about going to Costco, which was not my job usually. But for some reason, there I was. A little overwhelmed in the big warehouse, enjoying an hour poking through the enormous aisles and the three hours that a trip to Costco meant that I got to myself. Alone. With no one talking to me, asking me questions, needing anything from me. (That’s where the tangent started….)
I’m checking out, with my flat of tomatoes among other things, when the woman in line behind me says ‘that’s a lot of tomatoes, what are you doing with all of those?’. Now, the hubby, who usually does the Costco run, says this happens ALL THE TIME. When you are actually buying in bulk in a bulk shopping store, the mountain of food inevitably makes someone say ‘wow, can I come to your house tonight?’ Or, ‘Sir, you must really like bananas!’
In a flash, I decide that if I tell this woman that I own a restaurant I will enter into a long conversation about where it is, and for how long, and whether she has heard of it, and do I have a business card, and yes, this would be good for business but some days you just don’t feel like being exposed and engaged and you just want to be polite (because not being polite really isn’t an option, that’s hard-wired into me – I’m from the Midwest originally) but not say anything that will lead the conversation on.
So I respond “Oh, I’m making a batch of roasted tomato sauce”. As if I have ever made a batch of roasted tomato sauce in my life. And she says, “Oh wow, that sounds delicious, what’s your recipe?”. And here is where I get just what I deserve. Having chosen to lie, I now am caught and have to lie further. So I tell her I make a roasted tomato sauce with out of season tomatoes. (Have I mentioned that my undergraduate degree was in theater?) I go on about the roasting and how it brings out the flavor of less flavorful tomatoes, I mention the garlic, I tell her about doing this in bulk on a cold winter day and how great the house smells. I am the master of this sauce. I tell you no lie, that woman had the cashier go get her a few containers of tomatoes so she could go home and try my recipe. I feel guilty to this day. Though, you’re welcome Costco, for that extra sale.
I mean, I do know food. I’ve watched a lot of sauces be made. I’ve even made a few myself. I love roasted tomatoes in the winter. A roasted tomato and mozzarella salad is my favorite way to continue eating my favorite meal all year long. But, this is the recipe I imagine I was talking about that day in the store.
Slow Roasted Tomato Sauce
A delicious way to use tomatoes all year long
- 1 pile tomatoes 5-6 beefsteak, a dozen-ish plum, whatever is on hand
- 1 bulb garlic Cloves peeled
- 1 cup fresh basil chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 cup white wine
- 2-4 cups water
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
While the oven is heating, cut the tomatoes into chunks. Nothing fancy, they don't have to be uniform, we're heading to a blender in the end.
Spread the tomatoes on a half-sheet baking pan or 9x13 Pyrex dish.
Distribute garlic bulbs and basil over everything.
Pour on the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Place in oven and set a timer for 2 hours. Go do something else. Slow is the name of the game here, time is your friend.
Check on your babies after the two hours, but they will probably need another hour or two. They should look a bit browned and collapsed.
When they are good and roasted, remove the pan from the oven. If you object to seeds and skins, you'll need to get out a food mill or push the whole mess through a sieve. If, like me, you don't mind a bit of roughage, toss them all into a large saucepan. (If you don't have an immersion blender, you'll want to quickly pulse them in a food processor first, just to break up the chunks a little bit. Or break up the tomato chunks as much as you like. Really, this is all your choice.)
Pour in the wine and a couple cups of water. Get out your immersion blender and give it all a little whiz. Add more water if you'd like a looser sauce.
Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for about an hour.
Voila. Pasta sauce, pizza base, dip in some crusty bread.....