The tomatoes in our garden have really started taking off. The big 'monster' tomato plant in the trough is huge. I was cleaning the plant a bit and found all kinds of tomatoes growing in all stages...from blooms to tiny, to green to almost ripe and ripe ones hiding behind the dense foliage.
A few years ago I found a recipe in a magazine for a roasted tomato sauce and it sounded so good I decided to play with it...we loved it so much that it has become my favorite and I use it in many different recipes.
Easy, tasty and very versatile, it can be used as a topping for appetizers, mixed with ground turkey (or beef) in lasagna, a pizza topping, grilled polenta and also as a filling for acorn or butternut squash.
Roasted Tomato Sauce
3-1/2 pounds tomatoes (plum or beefsteak)
2 large onions, thinly sliced
8 shallots, peeled and halved
1 head garlic, peeled and mashed with the flat part of a knife blade
10 small or 3 large carrots, peeled and cut in half, lengthwise or rounds, for the large ones.
8-10 large fresh button type mushrooms, sliced
Olive oil (*)
Hawaiian sea salt and freshly ground multicolored peppercorns
Bunch of fresh basil leaves
Preheat oven temperature to 425 F
Prepare tomatoes by coring tops and cut each in half.
In a large roasting pan lined with foil, place the sliced onions first then layer the tomatoes on top, cut side down, add the rest of the veggies all in between tomatoes. Dribble with olive oil (I did not measure, but don't overdo it), and generously sprinkle with oregano, salt and ground pepper.
Roast for 1 hour, but check the tomatoes and carrots once at the half-hour mark to make sure the carrots get cooked in the juices. Cool the mixture and then process in batches in a food processor or blender with handfuls of fresh basil.
Yields approximately 5 1/2 cups. Store in tightly sealed container for up to a week in the refrigerator or can be frozen in batches in the freezer for up to 3 months.
The original source is in the Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine's September 2005 issue, but I made several adjustments and changes to the recipe to suit our taste.
(*) I used an olive oil and garlic infusion I made using 3 heads of garlic, peeled and mashed cloves and 1 liter of virgin olive oil. Place in the crockpot and cook until garlic turned golden but not burned. Fish out the garlic and use in garlic soup or something else. Pour cooled infused olive oil back in bottle and refrigerate.
Slice French bread at a slant in rounds about 1/2-inch thick. Brush with some of the garlic infused olive oil. Spread about 1/4 inch of the roasted tomato sauce over the bread slice. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella or your favorite cheese. Place in 425 F oven for about 5-8 minutes or until edges turn golden. Serve while hot.
Cover the top of the pizza dough or ready-made crust with a generous layer of the roasted tomato sauce. Cut bunches of fresh basil leaves into ribbons (a chiffonade) and spread over the sauce. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese â€“ we used a mixed mozzarella with sun- dried tomatoes and basil â€“ and bake until done.
Grilled Polenta with Roasted Tomato Sauce
I bought a package of polenta, which comes in a sleeve. Cut it in 1/2-inch rounds, coat with a brushing of olive oil and place on hot grill. Grill on both sides until golden.
Place polenta rounds on your plate and cover with a tablespoonful of the heated roasted tomato sauce. Top with freshly grated Parmegiano Romano cheese and serve with a salad of fresh greens or on a bed of the greens.
Stuffed and Baked Acorn Squash
Wonderful as a main entrée if using meat or a side dish when not.
3 acorn squash
1/2-cup fresh bread crumbs
1/4-cup celery, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh basil, minced
1 cup roasted tomato sauce
1 pound ground beef or turkey (optional)
Preheat oven at 350o F.
Wash the squash and cut in half lengthwise. Remove seeds and pith and cut off a small section on the rounded part, but not enough to cut into the yellow. Place squash with the cavity side down, on an oiled baking pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until almost tender.
Meanwhile, if using the ground meat, brown it in a large skillet. Drain off excess fat. Stir in breadcrumbs, celery, basil, roasted tomato sauce and water. Toss lightly to combine. Fill the squash halves with the mixture. Place in a shallow pan and return to oven to bake between 25 to 30 minutes or until heated through. Yield: 6 servings
Sonia's Note: If not using meat, stir the breadcrumbs, basil, celery and water into the roasted tomato sauce and then fill the squash.
A nice added touch can be ground raw macadamia nuts sprinkled on top before baking the second time.
All of the photos above were taken this morning as I was working in the yard. The basket with tomatoes at the bottom is today's harvest from that one plant... We have several varieties of tomatoes planted this year and so far just a couple of them have yielded fruit, but the rest are full of blooms and hopefully soon I will be making my roasted tomato sauce again.
I wish I had photos of all the dishes as prepared above but my Kodak digital card reader 'ate up' all the photos in one card and I had to buy a new one - Vivitar this time - and hope the same thing does not happen again! Arrrgh!