Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Roasted Tomato and Garlic Pasta Sauce

I love this sauce.  The roasted veggies give the sauce a smokey, authentic taste.  Adjust the seasonings to suit your taste.  I've listed two 'roasting' options here. I prefer the taste of the grilled veggies (weather permitting), but the oven roasted variation requires way less effort.  

When you roast a veggie, you end up losing a lot of the liquid that you usually have to 'boil' out of the sauce.  So, you sort of make-up some of your lost time.  I've included a link for the 'roasted garlic' below.

This isn't necessarily a 'canning' recipe, but I've included those instructions below.  There's no reason why you can't whip up a big pot of homemade sauce, and enjoy it the next day over your favorite pasta.

This recipe makes 6 pints, or 3 quarts of sauce.  I like to make a batch or two, without the Italian herbs.  Its nice to have the 'generic' sauce on hand for Mexican dishes.  I've included a link here for Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce which I whip up by swapping ethnic herbs and adding some smokey heat. 

6 bulbs of roasted garlic
3 red, yellow, or orange sweet bell peppers
12 pounds ripe tomatoes (see note about tomatoes below)
1 -3 T brown sugar (start with lesser amount and add more as it cooks if desired)
2 T kosher salt
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh black pepper
1 - 2 cups fresh basil, finely snipped (adjust amount to your preference)
1 cup lightly packed assorted fresh herbs (such as oregano, thyme, lemon thyme, parsley)
*6 tablespoons lemon juice (to be added to each pint jar)

Plum (or Roma) tomatoes are the meatiest variety and best for this recipe, but I have shopped around late in the season for canning tomatoes or 'seconds' and used them with success too.  Remember not to use anything too soft and remove small blemishes with a sharp paring knife, before roasting. Wash all veggies.

To Grill Veggies:
Using long handles tongs, roast the whole tomatoes and peppers on a clean grill.  You'll have to keep turning them as they char.  Don't be afraid to let the skins blacken and peel (blisters) away as you cook them.  This is what makes the sauce so good.  Much liquid will leak out of the maters as well.  No worries on this account either as it is less you have to cook away later.

To Oven Roast:
Cut tomatoes and peppers in half length-wise.  If you don't want to stand over a hot grill, you may roast the veggies on a foil lined, oiled cookie sheet, skin side-up. Set the oven to 400 degrees and the rack about 4 inches from the heat element. Watch for the skin to blacken, blister and peel (about 40 minutes). When it does, remove from heat.

Remove the tomatoes and peppers to a very large bowl.  More liquid will seep out as they sit. When cool enough to handle, peel the roasted veggies, leaving the little charred bits that cling to the flesh.  Reserve the veggie liquid in the bottom of the bowl for a later recipe (it makes a good tomato vinaigrette). 

Working in batches, puree the veggies in a food processor or blender. Transfer to a large kettle and add the roasted garlic, sugar and vinegar.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for at least an hour. Add the herbs and adjust the seasonings (salt, pepper, and sugar).  Simmer another 20 minutes.  Taste again and make any needed adjustments to seasoning.  Pasta sauce should be thick when done, and measure about 11 cups.

Serve right away, or freeze for later. To can, see below.

*Spoon 1 tablespoon of lemon juice into 6 pint size jars (2 tablespoon per quart).  Add the hot sauce, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace.  Seal jars and process in boiling water for 35 minutes (quarts - 50 minutes). 

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