Monday, September 3, 2012

a sauce to talk about

The following article first appeared in the Daily News Record on August 29, 2012.

*** 

The words for my next newspaper column weren’t falling into place. Tired of getting nowhere, I finally called up my mom. “I’m trying to write about a pizza sauce recipe, but I’m not sure what my point is.”

“Didn’t you just write about that in the last column?”

“No, that was a spaghetti sauce.”

“Pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, what’s the difference?” my mom asked.

“It’s totally different,” I said. “The spaghetti sauce was made with canned tomatoes. This pizza sauce is made with roasted tomatoes. Roasted garlic, too. A whole head. And it’s fast.”


“There’s nothing fast about roasting tomatoes. It takes hours!”

“No, no! These get roasted for just one hour!”

“Oh, really?” She was listening now.

“Yeah, they caramelize and get blistered black in places.”

“What? You put in black tomatoes?”

“When they’re blended up, they make the sauce look speckled. It’s gorgeous! And really, it couldn’t be easier.”

“Okay, okay,” Mom laughed. “You go to all this trouble and here I am just picking my jars of sauce off the grocery store shelves. I won’t get the mushroom kind and I try to choose something chunky—if you ask me, that’s easy. But your sauce does sound good.”


“It’s incredible!” I gushed. “So flavorful and rich. I get all sorts of traffic on my blog over that recipe—”

“All right,” she interrupted. “You have your column now.”

“Wha—?” I asked, bewildered.


“This phone conversation. Just write it down. That’s your column.”

“Mom, you duped me!” I shrieked. “You did this on purpose!”

“No, I did not! But now you have your column. Go write it.”


Roasted Tomato and Garlic Pizza Sauce
This recipe first appeared on Simple Bites.

12 pounds paste tomatoes, such as Roma
½ cup olive oil, plus extra as needed
salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 head garlic
3/4 cup green pepper, rough dice
1 cup onion, rough dice
1 jalapeño, rough mince
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon each, dried basil and dried oregano
citric acid, bottled lemon juice, or vinegar

Cut off the top of the head of garlic, making sure that the tippy-top of each clove has been removed. Set the garlic, cut side up, on a piece of foil, drizzle it with a bit of olive oil, and wrap tightly.

Wash and core the tomatoes. Cut them in half lengthwise and toss with ½ cup olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt, and the black pepper. Divide the tomatoes between two large, sided trays (put the foil-wrapped garlic on one of the trays) and roast at 400 degrees for 60-90 minutes, rotating as necessary. The tomatoes will blister and blacken a bit—this is good.

While the tomatoes are roasting, sauté the peppers and onion in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil until very soft.

Dump the roasted tomatoes into a large stockpot and add the sauteed veggies. Squeeze the garlic pulp out of the skins and add to the vegetables. Puree the mixture. Stir in the sugar, dried herbs, and more salt to taste—2 to 3 teaspoons.

Ladle the sauce into pint jars. To each jar add 1/4 teaspoon citric acid or 1 tablespoon lemon juice or 1 tablespoon vinegar. Screw on the lids and process the jars in a hot water bath for 20 minutes at a gentle rolling boil.

Yield: approximately 5 pints.

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