A few days before we left for vacation, I picked five pounds of San Marzano tomatoes and a dozen bell peppers from our garden and had to do something with them fast. I had planned all along to turn those beautiful tomatoes into sauce, but now that the task was at hand and I only had a few short hours, I knew this would have to be a quick and easy freezer sauce.
This sauce is inspired by a couple recipes from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, by Marcella Hazan, my go-to book for Italian cooking. We used all five pound of the San Marzanos (which I forgot to photograph before chopping), six bell peppers, a whole head of garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, and tossed in some fresh basil from the garden at the end. The recipe made about three quarts/litres of sauce, and we froze two of them. You can use Roma tomatoes instead, though they have a lot more juices. If you want to limit the juices, try seeding the Romas before cutting into small pieces. Many sauce recipes call for blanching the tomatoes and removing the skins, but we never bother with it.
As fortune would have it, we're glad we hurried and made the sauce before vacation because when we returned we discovered some animal had been eating away at the ripe San Marzanos and leaving the half-eaten tomatoes lying on the ground under the plants. Heartbreaking, truly. At least we still had some green San Marzanos, and to increase chances of survival we purchased a garden net and carefully wrapped it around the plants. Fortunately that has kept the critters away and our tomatoes are thriving again.
This is my contribution to Grow Your Own, a blogging event that celebrates the dishes we create from foods we've grown, raised, foraged, or hunted ourselves. Our host for this round is Wiffy of Noob Cook, so visit her blog for more information on how to participate. Entries are due September 15.
[Updated August 20, 2011.]
San Marzano Sauce with Peppers
- 6 quart pot with lid
- 5 pounds San Marzano tomatoes (cut into small pieces)
- 6 bell peppers (cut into small pieces)
- 1 whole head of garlic (peeled and minced)
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- ½ cup fresh basil (torn)
- Put all the tomatoes, bell peppers, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper in the pot. Turn the heat up to medium high and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, until the oil floats free from the tomatoes.
- Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the torn basil. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Serve with pasta. Will keep in the refrigerator for 3 days and up to 3 months in the freezer.
- For skinless seeded tomatoes: Blanch them first and then peel. Cut out the stem, then cut a little X on the bottom of the tomato. Put into boiling water for about 1 minute, then remove quickly. Put into a cold water bath. When the tomatoes have cooled, peel the skin away starting at the X. To seed the tomato, cut it in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. The tomatoes are now ready for the sauce.