Most backyard gardeners have picked their last tomato by now. This time of year is when I love to make fresh tomato sauce using the Roma and plum tomatoes I grew myself and allowed to ripen on the vine. It’s a simple process, a little labor intensive, but well worth the reward of having the freshest, sweetest tomato sauce for my macaroni. Earlier in the season I bought a half bushel of plum tomatoes from a local farm and canned about 7 jars of tomato sauce, the next best alternative to making a fresh tomato sauce. This is not so much a recipe as it is a procedure for making fresh tomato sauce.
You are going to need about 5 pounds of vine ripened plum tomatoes. That should make about 32 ounces of tomato sauce before you cook it down. Although you use this procedure for preparing sauce to can, this is just to make a fresh sauce your are going to use that day.
Wash all the tomatoes in cool water and place on a dish towel on your counter.
Cut the tomatoes in half and place in a stainless steel sauce pot. After adding half the tomatoes, place on medium heat and stir until you see liquid form at the bottom of the pot. Don’t allow the tomatoes to sit too long without stirring if there is no liquid on the bottom, they might burn.
Once the tomatoes release their juices process the remainder of the tomatoes, cutting in half and placing in the pot, while occasionally stirring. As the tomatoes soften mash down with a potato masher.
Cook the tomatoes until they are all soft. The softer the better.
If you have a food mill choose the screen with the smallest holes. You can also use a food strainer and sauce mill. Either will remove the skins and seeds and strain the sauce. If you don’t have either, you can always blanch the tomatoes, remove their skins, and remove the seeds with your fingers. Place the flesh into a blender and puree.
Place the stewed tomatoes into the food mil and process.
In between batches be sure to scrape the strained sauce from under the food mill into your bowl. Then discard the seeds and skins and add another batch. You should be able to process 5 pounds of tomatoes in two batches.
That’s about it! You now have about 32 ounces of fresh pureed tomatoes. Now it’s time to make the sauce.
I use a wide saute pan to cook the sauce. The sauce will thicken quicker because of the large heating surface. Add about 4 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive oil to the pan on medium heat. To the hot oil add about 4 cloves of chopped garlic. Cook till just fragrant, about a minute, then add the pureed tomatoes.
Throw in about 3 or 4 fresh basil leaves torn into little pieces. Add salt and black pepper to taste. That is all I add to my fresh tomato sauce. Cook the sauce over medium heat for about 20 minutes or until thickened and reduced by about half. Taste again for salt.
While the sauce is cooking you should have a large pot of salted water boiling. I like to use linguine, but use whatever macaroni you like. Add the macaroni to the boiling water just as the sauce is ready. I cook the macaroni about a minute less that the box calls for for al dente. The macaroni will continue to cook in the sauce.
Strain the macaroni in a colander and add directly to the sauce. Stir and mix well for the additional minute or two over medium heat until the macaroni is done to your taste. Remove from the heat and add additional fresh basil leaves torn into little pieces.
Add some grated cheese, a glass of red wine, and enjoy!