On the weekend, I had the good fortune of a large vehicle with lots of loading potential (read: fresh fruit and veggie haul). I spent the weekend in the Shuswap, running away from the frost threat in Calgary and visiting family, hanging by the beach, and visiting my favourite local fruit stands in search of a good deal. So haul I did. I brought back 80 pounds of roma tomatoes, 10 pounds of organic peaches, 5 pounds of locally grown blueberries, a few bundles of locally grown organic beets, a carton of fresh plums, some this-year's-apples and many-a-bag of fresh basil. That was just my order, never mind a few friends' that went in to the back of my red van.
So while many of my tasks in the coming days involve putting up as I already have this month (let's call it round two for frozen blueberries), I am busying myself with more tomato projects. May I introduce you to the most delicious, unequivocally easiest sauce you will ever make: the pizza sauce.
Amongst other things this week, I am putting up an octupled version (yeah I did) of the quick and easy pizza sauce, which I broke out into two big batches. For each batch, I washed about 28-30 roma tomatoes, and threw them in my mixer along with about 9-10 garlic cloves, and blitzed them to high heavens. I did not take off any stems nor did I peel the skins, because have we not figured this out yet? I'm as lazy as they come. To this mash, I added four teaspoons of dried oregano and some dried chili peppers, along with some sea salt and cracked pepper.
The trick to this sauce's deliciousness factor (yes, it's a word) (I'm writing this with my sister reading over my shoulder. Bear with me.). Yes, the trick to this sauce's deliciousness factor is to preheat the biggest pot you've got on high heat with nothing in it; the high heat will facilitate the caramelization of those tomatoes, morphing them into saucy goodness. You will want to drop your butter in the pan only a few moments before you will add the tomatoes and herbs to the mix, so make sure you have everything done and ready to go.
Once your pan is smoking hot, drop in about 4 or 5 tablespoons of butter, let it melt (it will turn brown, it's ok) and when it's done melting, throw in your tomatoes/garlic/oregano/chilis/S+P, mixing soon after adding in. Make sure to give your pot a stir every minute or so as it heats up, to make sure the bottom tomatoes don't get too scorched. Keep the high heat high to caramelize the tomatoes. Once your sauce is going at a hard simmer, keep mixing and put the timer on for 12-14 minutes, still on high. Towards the end of cooking, taste the sauce and adjust your flavours (salt to make it taste stronger, a bit of brown sugar or honey to mellow out a particularly acidic sauce). When your sauce is glossy on top and has a sheen to it, that is when you know the pot is ready to take off the stovetop. Taste it at different spots along the timer too, to get to know how it changes in flavours.
I then went on to make that second quadruple batch making it officially octupled, with the same list of ingredients prepared the same way, and I have enough pizza sauce to last me the next year. Truth be told, I use this sauce as a pasta sauce or like I did for tonight's dinner, as a base along with some balsamic, rosemary, bay leaf, red wine, wild mushrooms and leftover pulled beef I had in my freezer. I like to package in containers to the freezer, but also drop some sauce in ice cube trays and pop in the freezer for a few days, so that I may keep a stash of ready-to-defrost cubes of sauce for those lazy end-of-hectic-week Friday night dinners, or for mornings where I need to whip something up lightning fast to send for lunch with my girlie to school.
Now that I have 40 pounds of tomatoes done for today, must get to the next 40 pounds for tomorrow's work. (Thank goodness this only happens for a few weeks every year. I couldn't keep up this nutty pace!)