Having planted 12 tomato plants this year in grow bags and ring culture pots around my garden, I’ve been picking a lot of tomatoes recently. The two main varieties I’ve grown are Gardener’s Delight and Moneymaker. The former provides loads of large cherry tomatoes and the latter a decent sized larger tomato, both of which are delicious cooked or raw. I’ve also got a couple of plants which produce lovely striped tomatoes, given to me by a friend. They’re better for cooking.
I wanted to make a simple sauce base which could be used for a number of dishes. This one, from Delicious Magazine, can be blended with stock for a soup, or used in any number of ways with pasta and other stuff. Some options are given with the original recipe, making it a very versatile sauce for something so easy to make.
It’s suitable for freezing and makes about 500ml of sauce. I’ve already defrosted a batch for a bolognese, to which I’ll add some red onion marmalade and some other bits, and see how that turns out.
1kg ripe medium tomatoes, halved
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 tsp caster sugar
2 tbsp sun-dried tomato purée (I used ordinary: it’s fine.)
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Handful fresh basil leaves, torn
Salt & pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan 170°C/ gas 5. Cut the tomatoes in half and arrange them, cut side up, in a single layer, in as many roasting dishes as you need. Push the bits of garlic right into the tomato flesh, where the juice will help soften it. Sprinkle with the sugar, salt and pepper and dot with the tomato purée. Drizzle the oil over the tomatoes and roast until soft, which takes about an hour.
Once cooked, sprinkle over the torn basil leaves and crush them into the tomatoes with a fork to form a sauce. N.B. Remember cooked tomatoes will burst/potentially spray hot liquid in random directions if squished too hard. Cover arms, don’t stick your face over it to see what you’re doing. Fortunately, my kettle and toaster were the only casualties this time.
Once cooled, you can blend the sauce as smooth as you like, which I prefer as I’m not a fan of all the skins and couldn’t be bothered to sieve them all out. The finished sauce keeps in the fridge for up to 4 days.
The first batch of this was made to the letter of the recipe. When I made it the second time, I totally forgot to add the sugar or tomato purée. I roasted in batches and then combined everything before blending it. The overall flavour is delicious and not too acidic so I’m glad I omitted the sugar – I think it would have been overly sweet otherwise.
The recipe says to use medium tomatoes but I used everything I had. The only thing I did was fill roasting dishes with all small or all larger tomatoes, to ensure they cooked evenly and adjusted my timings accordingly.
I portioned the blended sauce into freezer bags, using mugs to keep them a uniform shape. I then froze them in the mugs and removed when solid. That way they fit into small gaps and I don’t have to commit to making any one dish, or end up with a freezer which is 75% soup. Turn the block out of the bag into a container, while still solid, and then defrost. Simples, as that annoying meerkat might say.