Whenever I can find bushels or bags of tomatoes and vegetables for sale in the fall, I know it is time to make a batch of tomato sauce. Originally I canned it, but the extra trouble is pretty time consuming and I find it now much simpler to just freeze the sauce in individual plastic containers that can be thawed quickly in a hot water bath when I need to whip up a pasta dinner at the last minute. I guess every Sunday after sailing, skiing or roughing it in the woods.
I have a basic list of ingredients that are in all the sauces and then a few others that I add to the base according to what’s in hand. The basics are 18 ripe tomatoes, 3 carrots, 1 cup celery, 1 zucchini, 1 large onion, 4 cloves garlic, 4 tbsp olive oil, thyme, a bay leaf and parsley or cilantro. I chop them all and throw them in a couple very large frying pans or Le Creuset Cocottes with salt on medium heat, stirring at first until the tomatoes have produced enough water. The onion should turn golden but no more. Then, cover 5 minutes and when you have lots of liquid, simmer open almost an hour to reduce and cook the vegetables. Cool down.You are done if you want chunky sauce but throw the concoction in the blender for smooth sauce, a great way to get kids to eat their daily vegetable servings by the way. There is no need for sugar because of the carrots, and no need for flour or a roux because of the zucchini. This sauce is 100% vegetables. I don’t peel the tomatoes nor the zucchini but you could. These vegetables yielded four containers each big enough for pasta for four.
Popular add-ons are, peppers of any colour, fresh basil, pitted olives, mushrooms, swiss chard, fennel, spinach added for the last 5 minutes, oregano instead of thyme, 1/2 cup white or red wine, balsamic vinegar, cream. Also add fresh ground pepper when you serve, or maybe a fresh crushed garlic clove as garlic tends to lose flavor in the freezing process. That’s only if you are not having home-made garlic bread with the pasta.
If it is past the time of year when the tomatoes have taste, add a couple tbsp tomato paste.