My tomato plants were obviously more prolific prior to the onset of black spot (which I treat by trimming the plant and applying fungicide). Still, I managed to accumulate 3 soup bowls full of tomatoes in the weeks prior. By the time I had that many tomatoes, I knew I wanted to try a sauce. Plum tomatoes are typically used, but I don’t grow those. So, I looked up a recipe that called for cherry tomatoes and gave it a whirl. You can find that recipe here. Please note, it is a recipe for a sauce, not a gravy. As I understand it, gravy contains meat drippings, whereas sauce does not. I’ve also been told there can be a difference in thickness- a sauce can be thinner, but doesn’t have to be.
All my life, I’ve had a taste for homemade sauces. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to occasionally eat at Italian restaurants featuring generational recipes. I’ve also watched sauces being built from scratch, happily taste-tested, and have a sense of what goes into a good one. For years, I’ve dreamt of making a sauce myself, but the amount of patience and meticulousness involved was a turnoff. Sure, I can savor it on the table… but to work for hours building it? I just wasn’t sure…
All this to say, my personal bar is rather high for homemade sauces, so, naturally, I personalized the recipe.
Method and Modifications:
*I read the comments on the original recipe, which influenced my choices when making modifications.
- Because so many people commented that 425F was too high, I dropped it down to 400F and baked for 45mins.
- Because others mentioned the liquid that would result from the cooking, I opted for a lasagna pan & lined the pan with foil for easy cleanup.
- After baking, there was an excess of watery/oily/tomato-y juice in the bottom of the pan. I used a slotted spoon to retrieve the tomatoes & used the drippings for garlic bread. More on that later.
*I had some leftover plum tomatoes, so I sliced them & added them to the cherry tomatoes.
*Obviously, a single row of tomatoes was out of the question.
*I seasoned the tomatoes before cooking because I wanted the seasonings to seep in. I did not have fresh basil. I went heavy-handed on the garlic, dried basil, and oregano, and light-handed on the onion powder before baking.
*I may have used too much olive oil. I had a coating of garlic-infused evoo on the bottom. Then I drizzled plain evoo on the top, and stirred to adhere the seasonings to the tomatoes.
*I fried one pepper and about 1/4 cup of onion for taste, and added them to the tomatoes before I pureed them.
*I used a mini-chopper instead of a blender.
*Even though I drained the tomatoes before pureeing them, the sauce was too thin for my taste.
*Many sauces use tomato paste as a thickener. I had about a cup and a half left from a mixture of chunky commercially produced sauce with a can of paste added, so I used that to thicken the pureed tomato mixture.
*Finally, I added more seasonings after thickening- including ground black pepper.
- Raw tomatoes over garlic-infused olive oil
- After seasoning & adding more oil
- After 30 minutes
- After 45 minutes
- After pulsing
- After adding tomato paste & sauce mixture to thicken
If I were to make this again, I would intentionally set out to establish a hybrid recipe. This means looking up a traditional recipe just in case I’m missing anything. Even though I ended up knowing a lot more off the cuff than I thought I did, it’s still nice to have the security of something written down to reference.
One of the things I liked about this meal was that it was entirely made from things I already had around. I served the sauce atop leftover ziti noodles that were mixed with peppers and onions, with the garlic bread on the side. Needless to say, it was delicious. I had about a week’s leftovers from the original leftovers+harvest. Yum!