Well that escalated quickly.
July 24, 2012 7:42 AM   Subscribe

I need your best, most awesome tomato sauce-like recipes. Salsas, marinara (meat is OK), etc. Overload of fresh tomatoes and basil. Also rosemary and mint.

So...that sums it up. My wee garden has been fruiting like crazy but has decided to start unloading tomatoes with much fervor. Also my windowfarm is bequeathing us with loads of fresh genovese basil, and my rosemary looks more like a shrub than anything else now.

Tomato types are Cherokee Purple, Rutgers, and Beefsteak.

I've also got Okra in droves too...but that doesn't seem like it goes much in tomato sauce.

Also, do I can this stuff? Do I put it in foodsaver bags somehow? Please halp.
posted by TomMelee to Food & Drink (33 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce with onion and butter. It doesn't sound like much but it's awesome.
posted by bcwinters at 7:47 AM on July 24, 2012 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Can your own pizza sauce?
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:47 AM on July 24, 2012

Best answer: You can just chuck them whole in your freezer until the end of the season, then skin each one by dropping it in boiling water and slipping the skins off. Then you chop them all and throw them in a pot and cook them down for a couple of hours. You can pass them through a food mill or not, and then put them into some sterilized canning jars with some lemon juice (store bought kind; you need the specific acidity.)

Then canned fresh tomatoes all winter!

If that's too much effort I like making pasta, letting the cooked pasta sit, browning lightly some slivers of garlic in olive oil, adding chopped tomatoes to the pan with a little salt, adding the pasta back, and then mixing in some shredded basil at the last minute. Easy peasey.

Also--homemade tomato soup is surprisingly delicious.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 7:47 AM on July 24, 2012

Best answer: Smitten Kitchen's slow-roasted tomatoes are great for saving tomatoes, except that you'll eat them all straight off the pan.
posted by punchtothehead at 7:48 AM on July 24, 2012

Best answer: I'm a huge fan of the Pioneer Woman's Restaurant Style Salsa. It's super easy to make and absolutely delicious.
posted by frizz at 7:48 AM on July 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You can pass them through a food mill or not, and then put them into some sterilized canning jars with some lemon juice (store bought kind; you need the specific acidity.)

Oh, hey, yeah -- if you do this, get some proper instructions. I skipped the part where you actually do the canning (boil the filled jars to create a vacuum) and I skipped everything involving keeping your body a botulism-free zone.

It is, however, really easy and there are lots of resources.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 7:52 AM on July 24, 2012

Best answer: Okra + a Tomato based Indian Curry would be alright I think. Garam Masala, Cumin, Tumeric loads of Onion browned in Ghee. But thats more to eat tonight.

I once made a huge Tomato & Chilli Relish with a cheap box of tomatoes from the shops. Bottle it while its hot and it will keep for quite a while.
posted by mary8nne at 8:03 AM on July 24, 2012

Best answer: Alton Brown's Okra and Tomatoes. Yum yum yum.
posted by guessthis at 8:03 AM on July 24, 2012

Best answer: I'm with A Terrible Llama - the freezer is your friend. I'm evil enough to also put bunches of herbs in there and just snip off what I need as I need it, basil, mint, thyme and coriander included. They look a little freeze-dried until they hit the hot pasta, then suddenly it's green and summer all over again.

I have better luck with heirloom-y tomatoes if I quarter them and lay them out on a cookie sheet to freeze, then bag them up. Peel or don't peel as you wish. There's probably five gallons in freezer bags worth in there right now.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 8:07 AM on July 24, 2012

Best answer: I love to make Bruschetta with the fruits of my garden.

Garlic (through a garlic press)
Vidalia or other sweet onions.
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste.

So freaking GOOD!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:12 AM on July 24, 2012

Best answer: My favourite Salsa Fresca (aka pico de gallo) from the New York Times. Good on tacos, on top of grilled/baked fish, on tortilla chips, on sliced baguette, etc.

Apparently, one can make Homemade tomato juice (from Simply Recipes).

I like to do seafood soup/stew in a tomato base. I loosely base it off this Cioppino recipe, also from Simply Recipes, but it's very adaptable.

Also love mussels steamed in a bloody-Mary inspired broth (dice garlic & onion, saute in a bit of olive oil and white wine, then add Clamato juice, chopped tomatoes, a few grinds of pepper to taste. Heat until simmering, then toss in well-cleaned mussels and steam until open. Garnish with plenty of chopped parsley, serve with some good crusty bread.

Finally, bacon & tomato linguine. Not fancy, but fast and very delicious. (In place of "peppered bacon", I just use normal bacon and add freshly ground pepper.)
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 8:27 AM on July 24, 2012

Best answer: Easy-peasy and oh-so-good... adapted from that old 80's classic The Silver Palate Cookbook

Pasta with Tomato, Basil and Brie
serves 4 (or two seriously greedy people)

4 large ripe tomatoes (I prefer a mix of red and yellow heirloom, or Jersey), cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 pound of brie, rind removed, torn into small pieces
1 cup of fresh basil leaves, cut into strips
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound linguine or whatever pasta you like (rotelli is nice)

Combine the tomatoes, basil, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Cover and let sit at room temperature at least two hours. Add the brie about an hour before you want to eat.

Cook and drain the pasta and toss with the rest of the ingredients. Serve immediately.

Be sure to have some good crusty bread for soaking up all the lovely garlic-y juices!
posted by idest at 8:47 AM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've adapted my sauce, but only slightly, from Mollie Katzen's Moosewood recipe. Sounds like you have plenty of tomatoes, so I'd just omit the can of paste and food-process one or two. I would have never thought to add honey, but it really jazzes up the consistency. Oh, and don't forget a glug of wine before it gets to a boil.
posted by obscurator at 8:50 AM on July 24, 2012

Best answer: I don't have a real recipe but gazpacho is a great chilled soup. I throw in maters, cukes, bell pepper, onion, celery, hot sauce, s&p and any other herb that sounds good.

Mince, whir or whatever then chill. (I sometimes put a dollop of last year's mater sauce in it to round out flavor, and a splash of vodka or wine is sometimes welcome.)
posted by mightshould at 8:52 AM on July 24, 2012

Best answer: I've tried Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce recipe, and it's alright, I guess, but the best tomato sauce I've ever had in my life is this recipe. It is life-changing. It is epic. It is warm and rich and has magnificent flavor and depth. I will eat it straight from the food processor.

4-5 large ripe fresh garden tomatoes, sliced into 1" rounds
4 good size fresh basil leaves
1 head of garlic, top chopped off
1/3 cup mellow red wine (like a Cabernet)
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
yum extra virgin olive oil (if you don't want to spoon it into your mouth, find another bottle)

To make:
Preheat oven to 450.

Cover rimmed baking sheet with foil and then drizzle foil with some olive oil, enough to slippery the surface. Place prepped garlic head on a piece of foil and drizzle some oil on there, too - and a bit of salt. Wrap the foil around it into a nice package. Put it in the middle of the baking sheet.

Place your tomato rounds in a single layer on the baking sheet around the garlic. Drizzle all the tomatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper. Slam it all into the oven for 30 minutes.

Pull out the food processor and add all the tomatoes (they'll be a bit charred and maybe a little grabby when trying to peel them from the foil - try hard). Unwrap the garlic and squeeze in the cloves (they'll be like paste - it's cool). Add the wine, basil and salt/pepper as you like it.

Puree the whole mess until it's one even consistency and no giant basil bits are jamming around in there.

Toss it with some bulky pasta (we used farfalle, but penne or a great ravioli would be lurvely), meatballs, gnocchi - seriously, whatever. Or just eat it out of the Cuisinart with your damn spoon because it's so good you won't care that you just ate sauce for dinner while standing in the kitchen.
posted by chara at 8:53 AM on July 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: At the end of every season I can a bunch of fresh heirloom tomatoes and salsa. For the fresh tomatoes I just crush them into quart jars (skins and all! I can easily remove them later, when I'm using them), add the requisite amount of lemon juice or vinegar for the protective acidity, and can them according to instructions that are easily found on the Internet or in any of the Ball canning books. This way I have my own crushed tomatoes to use in soups, stews, and sauces for the rest of the year.

For the salsa I use a tested canning recipe I found at the site above, but as long as you keep in mind that it should be mostly tomatoes and you need to add some acid, most recipes should work.

Really, you might just want to go grab a couple canning books from your local library and look at the many wonderful ways to can your 'maters. It's really simple and the startup cost is relatively low.
posted by rhiannonstone at 9:00 AM on July 24, 2012

Response by poster: You guys and gals are AWESOME! Thanks! I'll add in a few things I forgot:

I completely forgot my hydroponic hot peppers. They were supposed to be habaneros, but they sure look like jalapenos or something similar. I've got hundreds on the plant, they're turning dark blue/purple/black from green. I can take pics if someone wants to try to identify. SOMETHING needs done with them too! Literally there are probably an easy 5 pints on 3 plants and that many more flowers/smalls. I just don't know when to harvest them.

I've also got eggplant that's all kinds of leafy, but nary an eggplant to be found.

I've also got a coworker whose silly husband didn't follow the "one zucchini for the whole office" rule, and planted 4, and now they're pulling 3-5 lbs of zukes off PER NIGHT. No joke, and they're huge.

I have kind of a limited kitchen, but I do have big stock pots, crock pot, sous-vide controller, immersion blender, etc. Normal stuff, but no stand mixer or anything fancy like that.
posted by TomMelee at 9:01 AM on July 24, 2012

Best answer: I think salsa fresca works well with mint instead of cilantro: chop tomatoes, add minced jalepenos or something else spicy (on preview, you have peppers too, perfect), salt & pepper, lime juice, chopped mint. Optionally minced garlic and/or onion.

For cooked sauces, fresh tomatoes are awesome because it really doesn't matter how much you cook them, they are already delicious at 0 minutes of cooking. Start with sauteeing garlic or onions, add tomatoes and maybe another liquid, add additional flavor items as makes sense during cooking.

Ideas: puttanesca (garlic, anchovies, tomatoes, maybe some red wine, add olives, capers & basil at the last minute); amatriciana (bacon, garlic, tomatoes), vodka cream sauce (butter, onions, tomatoes, vodka, cream, basil).

A lot of recipes have you take the skins off tomatoes before cooking them, which is a matter of taste. But if you do want to peel them, rather than following the usual instructions of boiling a pot of water, scoring the tomatoes, and scalding them for a few minutes, I find it easier to score the tomatoes, put them in a heat-proof bowl, pour boiling water from my electric kettle over them, let sit a minute or two, drain and then peel. If it's a recipe where you want crushed tomatoes you can then squish them up with your hands in the same bowl, which is fun.
posted by yarrow at 9:08 AM on July 24, 2012

Best answer: Mm.. my grandma's Salsa Roja

Grill a few tomatoes and jalapeno peppers (definitely try your peppers!)
Put them in a ziploc bag and wrap them in a towel, let it sit for a few minutes
Peel the skin off and then toss them the skinless tomatoes and peppers with a cup and a half of water into a blender.
Peel and chop up a bit of garlic and toss it in the blender.
Blend but leave a bit chunky.
You will be left with the best Salsa Roja for tacos!

(as you can tell this is an authentic recipe, no exact measurements allowed!)
posted by xicana63 at 9:14 AM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Make chili! (That is, if you're like me, and you love chili.) Here's my recipe, which makes use of Penzey's spices—but you could totally make up a good chili mix yourself. (Perhaps even use those peppers of yours for seasoning?) You'll also have to fix up your fresh tomatoes accordingly; this calls for the canned variety. If you like meat, add it, but you'll probably want to remove some beans if you do.

(Note: This makes a lot of chili. No joke. I use the same massive pot to make it that my fiancé and I brew beer in. You might want to just halve it if you don't want to do what I do, which is gorge myself (and the S.O.) on chili for several days straight and then freeze the other half. It freezes very well.)
—6 tbsp olive oil
—2 vidalia onions, chopped
—2 red bell peppers, cut into strips
—1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
—chopped garlic to taste (I use 4 medium-sized cloves)
—chopped celery to taste (I use about four stalks, filling a cereal bowl)
—6 cups water (if you like a thicker chili, use less)
—2 28 oz cans tomato puree
—2 28 oz cans diced tomatoes
—2 29 oz cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
—1 29 oz can chick peas/garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
—2–4 tsp salt (optional)
—4 tbsp Penzey’s Chili 3000 (spices)
—4 tbsp Penzey’s Chili 9000 (spices; or omit and use double of the 3000 for a milder chili)
—sour cream or Greek yogurt (optional)
—shredded cheddar/jack cheese (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a large (massive) pot over medium-high heat, adding onions when hot. Sauté until the onions begin to soften, stirring often. Add the bell peppers and garlic and cook for a few more minutes, until the peppers start to soften.

Add the spices, stirring until they begin to stick to the bottom of pot and brown (about 30–45 seconds). Quickly add the water. Add the tomato puree, diced tomatoes, and the juice they were packed in. Add the beans, celery, and salt.

When the chili begins to boil, reduce heat to low and cover. Ideally, the chili should be simmered 3 hours to let all the flavors blend together. Stir about every 15 minutes, while checking to make sure that the heat is not too high, causing chili to stick to the bottom of the pot.

Serve with a sprinkle of cheddar/jack cheese and a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt. Die happy.
posted by divisjm at 9:17 AM on July 24, 2012

Best answer: Our absolute favorite thing to do with Cherokees is to load them into a couple of baking pans, cored. Stuff the gap where the core was with basil leaves. Core and seed about one ripe bell pepper per 5 pounds of tomato and wedge between the tomatoes (this is optional, but I think it adds a nice depth of flavor to the soup). Drizzle the lot with olive oil, balsamic and salt. Roast for 40 minutes at 425. Run the resulting highly goopy mess through a food mill and you'll have the most amazing tomato soup you ever tasted. It freezes and reheats like a dream. If you don't have a food mill, you can use a stick blender and a sieve, but the food mill is the bomb for eliminating seeds and skins. I'm curretly freezing 16 cups of this glorious stuff that I made over the weekend.

It also makes a great sauce base, if you are so inclined.
posted by Lame_username at 9:53 AM on July 24, 2012

Best answer: Punk Domestics has more ideas for what to do with your bounty. Thanks, Violet Cypher!
posted by MonkeyToes at 9:59 AM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: SMOKE THEM. Omg. Smoked tomatoes are my secret ingredient in a ton of things! Smoked tomatoes with baby kale. Smoked tomato sauce on asparagus. smoked tomatoes, sliced and pan-fried or grilled, served as a side dish. Just pop them in a smoker for 3-4 hours. If you don't have a smoker but you do have a standard charcoal grill, you can jerry-rig it into a smoker by putting a cheap plug-in soldering iron in an aluminium pie pan full of wood chips. Put that assembly into the bottom where the charcoal normally goes, run the cord out the side, and put the lid on, hey presto cold smoker.

Also, try dicing and draining them (toss with about 1/2 tsp of salt and leave to sit in a colander for an hour), then combine with diced bell peppers and cucumbers (also drained), chopped mint, dill, or cilantro, minced garlic, and full-fat greek yogurt. To DIE. That is a side dish that goes with nearly every kind of cuisine.
posted by KathrynT at 10:01 AM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you, or folks you know have surplus produce, you can donate it to a local food bank.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:27 AM on July 24, 2012

Response by poster: So tonight I tried Chara's recipe there from Finny Knits. It's good...but I clearly did something very wrong. The roasted tomatoes were DELISH by themselves, but they didn't get charred at all, even after an extra 3 minutes under the broiler. Perhaps I used too much olive oil? Anyway, put them in the blender with the head of garlic (and it's crappy garlic, but man it smelled AWESOME and was nice and soft) and then about 6 basil leaves (because I have a lot and I like basil and apparently it froze in my fridge and I needed to use it, booo). I used some Cab-sav as my red, probably closer to 1/2 cup because I used kind of a lot of tomato. The toms I used were also super duper ripe.

Anyway---the sauce is good, very good, but it tastes almost tinny, like it needs to be more unctuous or something. I'm thinking I used too much basil or possibly too much wine. It's also relatively thin. It feels like maybe it wants more salt, but I don't know what I'm talking about.

So...suggestions there maybe anyone?
posted by TomMelee at 7:06 PM on July 24, 2012

Best answer: Tell your coworker to pick the zucchinis in the morning too, and to pick them when they're small. They taste better, and you have less zucchini to deal with. Then get some off him and make zucchini slice.
posted by kjs4 at 11:15 PM on July 24, 2012

Best answer: but it tastes almost tinny,

Sugar and salt, maybe? Possible you didn't cook the alcohol down that much? That's a lot of wine for the tomatoes, and maybe it didn't cook out - maybe it's the tannins that are creating the tinny taste. My suggestion would be 'more tomatoes' and also 'sugar'. Salt is good too but sugar does magical things with tomatoes. I'm always afraid to use as much sugar as my parents put in, because I'm freaking aghast, but they really do make great tomato sauce. But just add small increments until it's more where you want it.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:16 AM on July 25, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks. Will give it a shot tonight.
posted by TomMelee at 8:55 AM on July 25, 2012

Best answer: Oh no! I feel bad for leading you astray. Did you season the tomatoes before you roasted them? It couldn't help to add a bit more salt if it's not quite flavorful enough.
posted by chara at 4:45 PM on July 25, 2012

Response by poster: You didn't---I'm sure I did something dumb. I DID season them first, and they tasted amazing when I took them out of the oven. AMAZING. I almost ate them all right there. They didn't char at all, and they didn't stick at all, so I'm thinking maybe I also didn't roast long enough. I also used craptastic garlic from Sam's club and more basil than it recommended and apparently I didn't read the part where I was supposed to cook the wine. Lol. The tomatoes I used were also very, very, very ripe, so they were very liquidy. (It also said 1" thick slices (I think it did, anyway) and that seems awfully thick, but it's what I did.)

Anyway, today I simmered it for an hour or so, added a little bit of sugar and some more salt, and it's very tasty. Going to make some meatballs and enjoy it tomorrow, and I already have another ~8lbs of tomatoes in the freezer for the next go-around.

posted by TomMelee at 5:51 PM on July 25, 2012

Best answer: Oh! I know this one! A tip I learned from an instructor in culinary school: add a hefty pinch of baking soda to tomato sauce (say about a quarter teaspoon for a 6 quart batch). Gets rid of the tinniness, makes it taste like you cooked it for hours. It'll bubble and hiss like it would with vinegar, but it neutralizes some of the acidity that can cause that weird metallic flavor.

If you do decide to go the canning route, I'll second Punk Domestics as a good resource but also the blog/book Food In Jars.
posted by hungrybruno at 11:51 AM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Awesome tip, thanks.

I made a batch tonight of spaghetti with the sauce, and MAN did it turn out AMAZING. I actually did the slow-roasted ones too, and folks ate that with the sauce with much applause. I made meatballs with garden garlic/jalapeno/green onion (totally just sauteed till light brown in olive oil then mixed with the meat, 9 meatballs out of 1lb of beef.) SO MUCH WIN. The sauce was even better in the pot tonight than it was after slow cooking yesterday, and went perfectly on the spaghetti. I stirred in a couple tablespoons of parmesan cheese too.

Now I've just got to get the rest of these toms roasted and/or sauced before they go bad.

Oh--and in case anyone's still reading, the peppers are definitely jalapenos. Open for recommendations on those too.
posted by TomMelee at 6:53 PM on July 26, 2012

Oooh, you could pickle the jalapenos! They'd be great in chili, a corn-bread or biscuit recipe, on carnitas tacos, as a garnish for a Bloody Mary cocktail, chopped up in an onion dip, or just for snacking.
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 10:37 PM on July 28, 2012

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