You read my Sardinian Meatball story and I promised Roasted Cherokee Purple Tomato Sauce. Today I deliver, even though Cherokee Purple Tomatoes are not yet in season; you’ll be ready when they come. Actually, the recipe is for “Heirloom Tomatoes,” and these pictures show a mixed variety of heirlooms, but the Cherokee Purple, by themselves, are my favorite.
In July of 2009, Georgeanne Brennan, in a Special to The Chronicle, wrote an excellent story on various tomatoes and sauces that included Roasted Heirloom Tomato Sauce. She grows her own tomatoes, so she has plenty to deal with and experiment with. Like me, she likes making her own sauce:
“I like being able to use my own ready-made sauce. I don’t even thaw it. I just put the frozen block in a pan, along with about a quarter cup of water, cover the pan and simmer until the block has melted. Then I remove the cover, turn up the heat and cook until the sauce is the consistency I want, usually thick enough for me to trace a clean path across the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon, with no sauce rushing to cover the path.
Ideally, my husband and I make and freeze enough tomato sauce to supply ourselves from late October through June, those months when tomatoes are out of season. We start making our sauce in mid-August, when the tomatoes are ripening in the full summer heat, and continue until the first freeze arrives and our tomato vines blacken and shrivel.”
But she grows her own tomatoes and was educated in France. I’m just a city-boy, buying my tomatoes at the Farmers Market or direct from farmers and picking up recipes and techniques as I go along. I’ve used the “bag and freeze” method she describes. I also like to store 3-cups of my sauce in Quart containers with lids that stack nicely in the freezer. They’re easy to open and pop into a pan for thawing. Last year, I tried canning, which has its advantages and disadvantages.
But how you store is not the point, what you store is what makes the effort worthwhile. In 2006, Mariquita Farm had a U-Pick tomato day at their farm in Hollister. I went and brought home way more than I should have, found some sauce recipes and celebrated the first annual Tomato Sunday, a saucemaking orgy. I promise to write about Tomato Sunday the next time it comes around. I’ve also made fabulous sauce with cherry tomatoes. But for now, I’ve teased Roasted Sauce long enough. Here it is.
Roasted Heirloom Tomato Sauce
adapted from a recipe by Georgeanne Brennan, in a Special to The Chronicle July, 2009
“This sauce has a slightly caramelized flavor, with a hint of tartness from the olives. Its color depends upon the tomatoes you choose, although I usually prepare this with a mixture of the biggest, juiciest heirlooms from my garden, and the resulting color is a shade of darkish yellow.”
I prefer to make mine with all Cherokee Purple tomatoes (not pictured)/mr
10 to 12 large heirloom tomatoes (about 5 pounds), such as Pink or Yellow Brandywine, Marvel, Purple Cherokee, or hybrids such as Early Girl or Golden Jubilee, cored
15 pitted Mediterranean-style black olives
15 pitted green olives
1 clove garlic, minced
15 basil leaves, chopped
— Leaves from 3 to 4 sprigs thyme [had no fresh, used 1/2t dried thyme]
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
— Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup minced shallots
1 1/2 cups Sauvignon Blanc or other dry white wine
1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, to taste
Instructions: Preheat the oven to 400°. [I used fan bake]
Put the whole tomatoes into a roasting pan, stacking if necessary. Sprinkle them with the olives, garlic, basil, thyme, coriander and fennel. Drizzle with 1/4 cup olive oil, the lemon juice and balsamic vinegar. Roast until the tomatoes are soft, and collapsing, about 40 minutes.
Heat the 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and saute the shallots until translucent, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the entire tomato mixture and the white wine. Bring to a low simmer and cook, stirring often, until the tomatoes are thickened and the flavors blended, about 40 minutes. [mine took twice that time to properly thicken]
Remove from the heat and let the sauce cool somewhat. Run the sauce through the food mill, using disk with small holes to remove the tomato seeds and bits of skin. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Cooked 8.09 – EZ and tastes great. [3 Mariquita Beefsteak? 8 Early Girl, 1 Cherokee Purple = nearly 4 pounds. Adjusted quantities accordingly.] [Bonny Doon Ca del Solo Albarino] [In the Chefs Pride pan, took twice as long to thicken.] Yield 3+ cups
Cooked 9.10 — Squeezed in fully five pounds of Cherokee Purple tomatoes. Had one cup mixed dry white wine and used additional 1/2 cup Syrah. Cooked 50 minutes in pot. Yield, 9 cups. Yummy. The Cherokee Purple are much more meaty than what I last used, hence greater yield. Gorgeous sauce. Just lovely.
Uses: Use on pizza, polenta, pasta, pan-seared steak or any time tomato sauce is required or appropriate.
Cherokee Purple are a nice tasty tomato, and I’m sure it makes great sauce. But it’s a fresh eating tomato, which means that it has much more water in it than a paste/canning tomato. We like to make our sauces out of paste tomatoes, because then there’s less cooking necessary to get it thick. And lest you think you’re sacrificing flavor moving to a paste tomato, think again. Over several years we’ve held blind taste tests of fresh examples our mix of heirloom tomatoes that we grow, and more often than not, the tomato everyone chooses as their favorite FRESH tomato (prepared simply by slicing with salt, pepper, and olive oil) is our paste tomato: Amish Paste. The variety produces large quantities of large anatomical heart shaped fruit that are blemish free, easy to core, and good for anything. I encourage you to try paste tomato varieties, especially if you can grow your own, or you know and adventurous farmer who is willing to grow something other than the standard “Heinz” or “Campbells” varieties or a generic “Roma” — instead look for Amish Paste, Hog Heart, Opalka, or Grandma Mary’s. That said, we can all of the varieties we grow (including the fresh eating varieties we like — Cosmonaut Volkov, Aunt Ruby’s Green, and Sun Gold cherry tomatoes), and in January in Maine each jar is like a can of sunshine when you open it.
Cherokee Purple may in fact be classified as a fresh-eating tomato however, I must say;
We have Cherokee Purple growing out back as I type. In May, we ate our first one of the year. We live in San Diego CA. The tomato was anything but “watery.” The flesh was firm and juicy on the bite but, the tomatoes did not show any signs of excess water when, I sliced into it, and the juiciness was my description of the fruit literally melted in my mouth. I have just now finished dining on Pasta with sausage with roasted Cherokee Purple sauce, roasted Yummy snacking peppers and Vidalia onions. My wife absolutely loved it. My sauce was thick, and complex, attributes which, I must attribute to the meatiness and the perfectly balanced, sweet, smokiness of the Cherokee Purple tomatoes. Eating a Cherokee Purple for the very first time will leave you with no doubt that it is the finest tomato you have ever tasted. And, they make excellent sauce.
Our purples have been coming in fast and furious this year. I live in PA and the weather this summer has been great for growing. I made this sauce today and it is amazing! I have used many varieties of tomatoes for making sauce. This was a winner!
Came out amazing!!!!!! Made it exactly how it says to.