From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Local tomatoes have started to come in with a vengeance. Not too long ago, that would have me pulling out the canning kettle in anticipation of putting all those tomatoes by. I loved to see the shelves of my pantry bulging with jewel-toned jars. These days, space and other practical considerations keep the farm wife in me at bay, and those jars of vibrant red have been replaced by a few pints of frozen sauce. I use the slow cooker to make the two types of sauce I freeze. One is a basic tomato sauce that contains only salt and olive oil. I use no other seasoning, so I can work it into various types of ethnic recipes. The other is a ready to go marinara sauce that can be used with pasta, chicken or vegetables when I'm in the mood for an Italian-type meal. Both sauces are delicious and simple to make, but my scales tip slightly in favor of the one that is unseasoned because it uses unpeeled tomatoes. Both versions, however, require seedless tomatoes. Don't skimp here. Slow cooker tomato sauces turn bitter if there are seeds are mixed with the other ingredients. A few strays won't make a difference, but it is worth your time to remove as many as you can if you want sauce worthy of your time. I do hope you'll give both these recipes a try. Here is how these simple sauces are made.
Slow Cooker Basic Tomato Sauce... from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Cook's Country magazine
8 pounds plum tomatoes, cored and halved crosswise
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1) Squeeze each tomato half to remove seeds and excess juice. Transfer tomatoes to slow cooker. Stir in salt. Leaving lid about 1/2-inch ajar, cook tomatoes until very soft, 8 to 10 hours on LOW or 5 to 7 hours on HIGH (I cooked mine on LOW).
2) At end of cooking time, transfer tomatoes to colander and let excess liquid drain (do not press on tomatoes).
3) Puree tomatoes: If using a blender, work in batches and process tomatoes until smooth, about 1minute. Transfer sauce to a clean bowl. If using an immersion blender, return tomatoes to slow cooker. Submerge blender in slow cooker and process tomatoes until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.
4) Stir oil into sauce until incorporated. Let sauce cool completely, then refrigerate for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 2 months. Yield: 7 cups.
Slow Cooker Marinara Sauce...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Southern Living magazine
8 pounds fresh plum tomatoes
2 large sweet onions, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 (6-oz.) can tomato paste
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 tablespoons dried Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1) Cut a small "X" in bottom of each tomato. Bring 8 quarts of water to a boil in a large stockpot. Add tomatoes, and boil 30 to 60 seconds or until peel begins to separate from tomato flesh. Remove with a slotted spoon. Rinse immediately with cold running water, or plunge into ice water to stop cooking process. Drain. Peel tomatoes, and discard skin. Cut tomatoes in half, and gently squeeze to remove seeds. Coarsely chop tomatoes.
2) Stir together onions, next 7 ingredients, and chopped tomatoes in a 7-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH 4 to 5 hours or until tomatoes have broken down and are very soft. Cool 20 minutes. Stir in basil and thyme.
3) Process mixture with a handheld blender until smooth, or process mixture, in batches, in a food processor or blender. Season with salt and pepper. Yield: 13 cups.
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