A common love of ours as a people, likely borne of the hardships faced by our pioneering progenitors, is farming and gardening. Summertime brings excitement for most because of the wealth of fresh produce available from the numerous talented gardeners in the area. Tomatoes are the prized crop. They can be challenging and fickle to grow, often succumbing to blight and other, often mystifying, ailments. Some gardeners, however, have mastered the art (or science depending on who you ask) of raising these captivating fruits. A common frustration is knowing what to do with the inevitable abundance that risks rot upon the vine, as it cannot be plucked and consumed soon enough. The best thing to do with blemished and overripe tomatoes is to turn them into a sauce. Fresh summer tomato sauce on any pasta is one of the rare sublime delights missed out on, largely due to the proliferation of the dreaded abominations that manifest in the form of bottled pasta sauce.
The process of making these contemptible shams is an affront to all that is good and righteous: Unripe, commercially bred, chemically manipulated, and indifferently grown tomatoes. Stripped of their skin by chemical means. Carelessly blended and churned in looming stainless steel vats. Further adulterated with copious amounts of sugar, salt, spices, flavor enhancing compounds, vitamins, and minerals, and a touch of preservatives for shelf life. You can practically see the grimacing faces of the workers as they heave and toil with the large bags and buckets of ingredients, clad in garments reminiscent of hazmat gear. Further, it is bottled, packaged, warehoused, trucked, unpacked, clanked, jostled, scanned, hurriedly opened and slopped on equally terrorized noodles, no doubt empathetic of the journey experienced by its tomato-based comrade. All of this, only to be met with a lukewarm, if not hostile, reception by a herd of electronically addled children, tragically unaware of the blissful experience that the aforementioned process fails to deliver.
In an effort to bring light and goodness back to the scorched earth of modern day life, I give you tomato sauce.
4-5 large tomatoes
1 medium sized onion
3-4 cloves of garlic
1 bunch of basil
4-5 large sprigs of oregano
Salt and pepper
Start with a pot of boiling water. Using a paring knife, cut a small x into the bottom of the tomatoes, this will facilitate peeling them. Once you have boiling water, submerge the tomatoes for about 30 seconds each. You will see the edges of the skin curl where you cut an x. Using the paring knife, grasp the skin between the blade of the knife and your thumb and peel off the skin. It should come off easily in 4 sections. (Youtube the process if you have any difficulty.) Dice the tomatoes. In a saucepan, over medium heat, add 3-4 tablespoons of oil. Once it has heated, add the onion and cook until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for 5 minutes or so. Be careful not to brown the garlic as it can become bitter. Next, add your diced tomatoes, salt, and pepper to taste and let it cook until the tomatoes break down and it becomes a sauce (about 15-20 minutes). Finish with chopped basil and oregano, about a tablespoon or 2 of each. You can use dried, but if the tomatoes are in season, you should be able to pick up some fresh basil and oregano. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Use in any recipe that calls for tomato sauce.