When high summer rolls around in Iowa we are blessed with few things more glorious than heaping mounds of sweet corn and baskets full of tomatoes. The sweet corn usually ends up being eaten about as quick as it is picked leaving behind piles of husks and cobs that get dumped into the Yardy cart. Tomatoes are a little more problematic because it seems like the plants start to produce so much for such a short period of time you are left wondering how you will eat any more caprese salad.
My solution is to turn the baskets full of odd shaped red orbs into a basic tomato sauce that can be turned into pasta sauce or pizza sauce or the tomato base for just about anything you heart desires when the temperature drops below freezing.
A lot of people will tell you to go down the score and skin method of preparing your tomatoes. Not this guy. I opt for a much simpler method using the oven and a food mill.
First, I cut the stems off the tomatoes and slice the fruit in half. A lot of tomatoes fit on a full-size pan:
Put the pan into an oven at 325 degrees. Sometimes they tomatoes are ready in little more than an hour and sometimes it takes closer to two hours. Unlike some other internet recipe gurus I do not like to roast the tomatoes until they are blackened. I like them to look something like this:
With the food mill you do not need to worry about the skins or seeds. Just scoop the roasted tomatoes into the food mill, set up with a medium die, and turn. In less than ten minutes you will have a bowl full of basic tomato sauce:
After letting it cool to room temperature I bag the sauce in quart freezer bags and freeze the sauce for use later on. It cannot get much simpler than that.
For my basic sauce I do not oil or season the tomatoes in any way. This way I can use the sauce in any number of ways. For pasta sauce in the winter I combine a measure of the sauce with some sautéed onions, garlic, and reduced white wine. It becomes the Swiss Army sauce out of my freezer.