August 3, 2007

I Feel Ya', Guys!

These baby barn swallows have nothing to do with fresh tomato sauce -- which is supposed to be the subject of this post -- but they are darn cute and, like me, they are perpetually waiting to eat, which is why they are so perilously perched on the edge of their nest! They are waiting for momma or poppa barn swallow to deliver some bugs to eat, a process that, according to one source, begins at dawn and continues until dusk.

The little buggers – excuse the pun – may make a mess of our front porch, and mom and dad (not to mention sisters and brothers from the first brood of the year) can get a wee-bit aggressive when they see anybody within shouting distance of the nest, but it’s still enjoyable watching them go from scrawny gray balls of fuzz to sleek black and rust flyers in a matter of weeks.

Now, back to fresh tomato sauce…

This is in line with a number of recipes I have seen for fresh tomato sauce. The batch I made last night (using tomatoes from our CSA) had excellent flavor, but, to be honest, had a bit of an acidic finish, which is a known risk of fresh tomato sauce, particularly if, like me, you do not scoop out the seeds and pulp. I’ve seen several suggested remedies, from sugar to red wine vinegar to carrots (the latter of which Mario Batali includes in his basic tomato sauce recipe).

I suppose when I reheat the sauce to eat it some time in the future, I’ll probably stir in a teaspoon of sugar and I’m fairly confident that will temper the acidity. Also, I’m not a fan of thick tomato sauces (unless it’s a Bolognese or other type of meat sauce, which is an altogether different animal in my mind), so I only cooked the sauce for a brief time.

Fresh Tomato Sauce

- 2 to 3 pounds of garden fresh tomatoes
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon of crushed red pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of fresh basil, chopped
- 1 teaspoon of fresh oregano, chopped
- A hefty pinch or two of salt and some fresh pepper

Fill a large bowl with cold water and some ice. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Score the tomatoes with two or three long slices (just on the surface) and put in the boiling water for 1 minute. Drain the tomatoes and quickly immerse in the cold water. After a minute, remove the tomatoes, peel them, and chop them up.

Put a few swirls of olive oil in a pan and warm over medium heat. Add garlic and crushed red pepper and cook for a few minutes. Add onions and cook until they are soft, 4-5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper, combine well, and let cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the basil and oregano.


First, if you’d prefer the sauce not to be chunky, or if you have kids who think chunky sauce is just plain wrong, run the sauce through a big food processor.

Second, if you like a thicker sauce, you can let it cook for 20-30 minutes, partially covered.

Third, as I mentioned earlier, to temper the acidity of the tomatoes, you might want to consider adding a teaspoon of sugar at the same time you add the tomatoes. That said, I made a whole lot of fresh sauce last year with tomatoes from our garden and it was not acidic at all. Quite the opposite: light and a little fruity. To be safe, you might consider omitting the pulp and seeds of maybe half of the tomatoes, at least the first time around.

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