Tomato Sauce: A Lesson and A Recipe


Discover Something New Every Day: The Challenge

I cooked up a mess of tomatoes this morning from my brother-in-law’s garden (see photo above). The tomato sauce is a recipe from my sister and a lesson in how far away from my heritage I’ve moved. My mother and grandmother spent nearly every day of gardening season cooking something at the stove. They canned green beans, peaches, cabbage, and corn. They pickled okra, cucumbers, and peppers. They ran cooked tomatoes through a cone-shaped sieve with a cone-shaped wooden pestle the size of a rolling pin. (Who knows what happened to that antiquated equipment? I’ll bet that pestle weighed four or five pounds.) As a kid, I was interested in eating all that good bounty but not so much in learning the crafts of gardening, canning, or even cooking. I’m a fair cook now, but I’ve never raised a garden, and until this morning, I’ve never cooked tomato sauce. After I tasted the finished product this afternoon, I immediately regretted that I didn’t have more tomatoes for another batch. The sauce is that good, and I’ll be sorry when it’s gone. All my people were farmers, and here I am in mid-life, just now catching on.

Here’s our recipe; it’s time-consuming, but not difficult. I used about 2 dozen tomatoes, various types, sizes, and colors.

Wash tomatoes and remove stems. Make a cross-cut on the bottom of each tomato and place in boiling water until the skins split (about a minute or two). Remove tomatoes and cool slightly, peel off skins, then de-seed by mashing through a sieve. Squeeze out every bit of juice and throw in remaining pulp. I got nearly a dutch oven full of juice and pulp. Prepare for cooking the tomato sauce by first sautéing one or two shredded carrots, several cloves of diced garlic, and one small diced yellow onion (or 2-3 shallots) in olive oil. Sautee slowly until carrots, garlic and onion are soft. Flavor with salt, pepper, dried basil, oregano, thyme, parsley, and a few red pepper flakes. Add tomato goop and bring to a boil. Cover and turn down to a simmer for 2-3 hours. Mixture will thicken if pot lid is tilted during cooking.

Oh yes, the okra in the picture above . . . it’s in my freezer awaiting the cornmeal, egg, and Crisco tomorrow.

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