Sunday, September 16, 2007

Provençal Oven-roasted Tomato Sauce

Daylight hours are getting shorter, temperatures are dropping, and summer-green trees are now speckled with the first copper and scarlet leaves of fall. Autumn is fast approaching, but the tomato plants at the farm are still producing like mad. Every week we take home heavy bags of them- seven pounds one week, nine pounds the next, and always a mixture of hefty, meaty sauce tomatoes and tiny, intensely-flavoured cherry and pear varieties.

I love tomatoes raw in just about anything, but I've also been looking for ways to store some of summer's bounty for the dark winter months ahead.

As usual, Gourmet came to the rescue with a freezer-friendly recipe for
Provencal oven-roasted tomato sauce. I used a combination of red and yellow tomatoes (and one tiny green-striped tomato) and roasted them, with dried herbs from our porch garden, on parchment paper, for exactly 35 minutes total (how often do recipes work out that precisely?!). I wanted to strain out the tomato skins and seeds, so I didn't skip the food mill processing.

Usually, making homemade tomato sauce requires equipment-hogging and time-consuming processes: blanching, peeling, seeding, and chopping the fresh tomatoes. This method is fabulously, infinitely easier.

Roasting gives the tomatoes and garlic an unusually intense, yet mellow flavour; herbs and orange juice add a lively brightness. When we tasted the first batch, I was worried that we'd eat the whole jar before it went into the freezer. This is fabulous as a warm soup, and I can't wait to try it on homemade pizza and fresh ravioli!

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