It’s the war of the tomatoes this week (and month) at Chez Foti, there’s a daily battle between myself and the ridiculously extravagant sixty three tomato plants I’ve somehow ended up with (an over exhuberance in seed sowing and a problem number of self-seeders literally fruiting up all over the plot!). Every day I fill an enormous basket worth (with the help of my two little tomato pickers – see pics below) and use up every minute of available time (which is never all that much with a two and a nearly four year old to entertain too) transforming them into something tasty for the future. An inordinate amount of my time seems to be spent chopping tomatoes. But there’s always a tray full of surplus at the end of the day, and today I now have two trays worth. And we’re only at the beginning of the tomato season. Our new chest freezer’s meanwhile filling up nicely, it arrived last week just in the nick of time. I fear we’ll be ordering another before the end of the summer.
Today in the Chez Foti Battle of the Tomatoes it was the turn of the pasta sauces, a roasted in the oven with thyme and garlic Cherry Tomato Sauce and a slow cooked on the hob with garlic and plenty of oregano Beef Tomato Sauce. Both are divinely simple but packed full of intense flavour through slow cooking, good quality olive oil and plenty of fresh from the garden herbs. Great to use just as they are as a pasta or pizza sauce or sublime with a stirring through of a little creme fraiche and/or balsamic, fresh basil or oregano….and then topped with a further drizzle of good quality olive oil (or chili oil) or Parmesan. Happy days! I’ve also used these as a base for a very rich tomato soup or thinned down (with milk and water) as a sauce for meatballs.
My kids adore both these sauces as much as we do, and they make a super quick and healthy pasta supper when short on time. Which is just as well as I now have half a freezer full. I tend to stir a little creme fraiche into the sauce for the littlies making it extra creamy, and I also go easy on the salt content.
As a fair whack of my herb garden has been going into these tomato sauces I thought it more than appropriate to enter this post to the lovely Herbs on Saturday blog challenge held by Karen at Lavender and Lovage. There’s always plenty of gorgeous herby recipes to check out each month so keep the page bookmarked!
Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce with Thyme and Garlic
About a kilo of cherry tomatoes
Maldon sea salt (or similar)
Freshly ground black pepper
Several sprigs of fresh thyme
6 cloves of garlic (un-peeled)
3 tablespoons of good quality extra virgin olive oil
Heat your oven to 160ºC.
Fill an oven tray with whole cherry tomatoes (which is about a kilo, maybe a little more). Sprinkle over a generous pinch or two of black pepper and Maldon (or similar) sea salt. Remove the leaves from some of the thyme sprigs and scatter over, leave some whole. Nuzzle in the whole sprigs and un-peeled garlic cloves where you have space. Drizzle over the olive oil.
Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes until the tomatoes are completely soft and collapsing.
Remove the thyme sprigs and garlic. Tip the tomatoes into a food processor or blender, making sure you fully scrape off all the lovely residue and oil from the tray. Squeeze out the goey goodness from each of the garlic cloves into the tomatoes too. Whiz until you have a super smooth sauce. Alternatively tip the tommies and garlic into a bowl and use a stick blender to do the whizzing (my preferred method as there’s less washing up!). Have a taste check and add more salt and pepper to suit.
A Slow Cooked on the Hob Tomato & Fresh Oregano Pasta Sauce
About a kilo of larger than cherry tomatoes, any variety. I used beef as that’s what I have
6 tablespoons of good quality extra virgin olive oil
8 cloves of garlic
a teaspoon of sugar
a couple of pinches of Maldon sea salt (or similar)
a couple of generous pinches of freshly ground black pepper
a few sprigs of fresh oregano, leaves removed. Be generous!
Chop up all your tomatoes to a medium dice. I tend to use the skin and seeds but not everyone likes to, so remove if you wish.
Heat the oil in a very large saucepan or stock pot on a lowish heat. Fry the garlic for a couple of minutes and at the point when it’s just starting to take on some colour tip the tomatoes into the pan. It’s important not to burn the garlic or this will taint the sauce.
Stir in the pepper, salt and sugar and bring to a simmer on a medium heat. Once simmering turn the temperature down to the lowest setting and allow to bubble away for about an hour until much reduced and considerably thickened. Half way through the cooking time stir in the oregano leaves.
Allow to cool for a few minutes before whizzing up in a processor or blender, or a stick blender straight into the pan, until you have a super smooth sauce. Have a taste check and add more salt and pepper to suit.