It seems like just yesterday that I was fawning over my tomato starts, compulsively checking their growth and the moisture level in the soil.
Then summer happened--kids on the deck "helping" my plants along, vacations when all my plants went unforgivably long without water, the reality of my distracted self. Still, in spite of neglect, I've got tomatoes out there, hanging on to bedraggled stems, bright, splitting orbs in the middle of brown leaves.
Here's what to do with those. You'll have to leave your oven on for awhile, but the concentrated tomato flavor is worth it. With the Seattle rain starting in earnest, you won't mind anyway. The longer you cook it, the thicker it will be--thick enough to put on toast with goat cheese or brie. If it's a bit thinner, what a beautiful sauce it makes. Or tangy bath for fried bread. It will be quite seedy, especially if you've got cherry tomatoes. Tomato seeds don't bother me one bit, though. Maybe I should put on my recipe-naming hat and call this "Rustic Roasted Tomato Sauce." I don't want to go down the rustic road, though, because almost everything I make should contain that modifier if I'm being honest.
My friend Sue is a brilliant gardener, and when I saw her artfully trellised tomatoes a couple weeks ago, I started planning for next year. I've got a lot to learn. This is Year Four of my vegetable garden. I've gotten a little better, but more than that, I've gotten better at just accepting what it is. A crazy, unkept, terrifically imperfect little plot that reminds me where food really comes from and blesses me with harvest though I feel I don't deserve it.
Roasted Tomato Sauce
Makes about 4 cups. I cooked mine for around two hours. You can leave it in longer if you want to cook more liquid out of it. Also, though I don't mind seeds, a bunch of tomato skins in your sauce is probably more rustic than you want. I just pick through with my fingers after it's cooked and cooled, pulling out the skins. Many of them have come off naturally and rolled up into little cylinders. For ones that are still stuck to tomatoes, they will pull off really easily. OR you can plop all your fresh tomatoes in boiling water for one minute before roasting them. This will loosen the skins and you can peel them before putting them in the oven.
3 lbs. tomatoes (any kind--I used a mixture of cherry, beefsteak, and roma), skins removed before cooking or after (see above)
handful fresh thyme, oregano, rosemary, or mixture
3 large garlic cloves, minced
lots of kosher salt
1 Tb. sugar
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
Combine everything in a 9 x 13 pan and bake at 350 for 1 1/2 to 3 hours.
Gnocchi with Roasted Tomato Sauce and Lemon Zest
Serves 4. Here's how we ate our sauce last night. !!!!! It went down way too easy. You don't smother the gnocchi in sauce-just enough to coat all of it lightly.
1 lb. gnocchi (I bought the frozen kind from DeLaurenti. So tender.)
2 c. roasted tomato sauce, warmed
1/2 c. finely grated parmesan
zest of one large lemon
2 Tb. fresh thyme or lemon thyme, leaves stripped off stem
1 T. fresh oregano, finely chopped
1 ts. aleppo pepper
Combine parmesan, lemon zest, fresh herbs, aleppo, and salt in small bowl.
Cook gnocchi according to directions--mine took 3 minutes. Drain, then toss with warm tomato sauce.
Divide into bowl, top with a generous sprinkle of parmesan mixture.