I may have a small (condo rooftop) garden, but I actually get a fair amount of tomatoes. And for me, end of summer = tomato harvest time! This tradition started for me a few years after moving to Italy. Italians LOVE their tomatoes. Fall finds Italian kitchens buzzing with sauce-making and drying their tomato bounties (given their warmer weather, the end of the tomato season runs into Fall there).
(This pic was taken at the beginning of the garden season)
One year, my then boyfriend and I made our way to the mountain home of one of his work colleagues and his lovely wife. They’d invited us up for the weekend to sun-dry tomatoes and make yummy vegetable pasta sauce. They had a stone house that just oozed history. Its traditional thick walls made for a bit of a chilly time, so we had the fireplace going, a huge good-old wood-burning fireplace. It was just all so charming.
We spent all day Saturday slicing up tomatoes and laying them out to dry on one of their balconies. I went to bed so excited to see actual, sun-dried tomatoes in the morning. How cool is that?!
We woke to a mist in the air. Uh oh. High humidity is not great for drying. The tomatoes were actually mouldy. So much for my first (and last, LOL) tomato sun-drying adventure…Luckily Sunday as a success. We cooked and jarred dozens and dozens of jars of sauce. Plenty to last us through the winter.
While I haven’t jarred anything since (can’ get past the mental bock of having to boil jars– and what if I don’t get that whole sealing thing right and the sauce goes off—what a waste!). I do, however, love a home-made sauce. The simpler the better so I love this one from David Rocco. Five minutes- can’t beat that! Totally doable even on a weeknight.
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 4 tablespoons/60ml extra virgin olive oil
- 28oz/790g canned peeled plum tomatoes, pureed or tomato puree (I used my fresh tomatoes of course. I added a bit of tomato puree to make sure it had that great saucy consistency)
- dried chili peppers, crushed
- 5 basil leaves, torn (P.S. Fresh from my garden too!)
- Salt to season
INSTRUCTIONS (Serves 4)
- Heat olive oil in a saucepan and add onion, garlic, and chili peppers. Gently fry ingredients together until the onions are softened and lightly browned.
- Add the pureed plum tomatoes or puree. If you’re using tomatoes, either pout them into a bowl and squeeze them with your hands to break them up to a nice texture before you add them to the saucepan or put them right in and crush them with the back of a spoon. This time I used the spoon method, but I do like to squeeze them through my hands. There’s something ‘going back to the land’ and therapeutic about it. Almost as good as a good closet de-clutterring).
- Simmer on low to medium heat for about 10 minutes. I let it go another 5 minutes or so—the fresh tomatoes just needed a little extra time to get nice and gushy.
- Salt to season. Add basil leaves and enjoy!
Recipe adapted from David Rocco