Friday, 29 August 2014

Pizza Sauce

You may have noticed at the market this past week that there were cases and cases of tomatoes. There were canning tomatoes, field tomatoes, heirloom varieties, hot house tomatoes on the vine, and a rainbow of mini tomatoes all begging to be taken home in your shopping bag. You might have even seen shoppers lugging entire cases away to their cars. What was all the fuss about?

There were cases of canning tomatoes at S4 Greenhouses.
We all know that supermarket tomatoes, trucked in from thousands of kilometres away in the winter taste, well... a little wooden and bland. So how do you capture the beauty and spectacular taste of a summer tomato and save it, to be opened again in the winter releasing those memories and that incredible flavour?

Canning tomatoes is a very tricky business as you have to use complicated and time consuming hot water baths to seal your jars perfectly to ensure that you don't give yourself food poisoning down the road. I'm not saying don't try it, but have a little canning experience under your belt first.

Really, any tomato will do for this recipe.
By far, the easiest way to preserve tomatoes is by freezing them. Wash them, take the stems off them, and simply pop them into large ziplock bags. One bag, crammed with tomatoes, will be enough to double this recipe. When you go to use them, simply pop them in a sink full of hot water while they are still frozen solid, and within seconds, the skins pull back and slip off easily. You can then use them in any recipe, from pasta sauce to this recipe!

Tomatoes are one of those super foods. Packed with antioxidants and lycopene they are great for men to eat as they protect against prostate cancer, along with lung and stomach cancers. A Harvard University research study in 1995 found, by studying the eating habits of 47,000 men, that men eating ten servings or more of tomatoes a week of tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato juice, and even pizza had 45% fewer prostate cancer than those men who ate fewer than 2 servings a week. Now those are impressive findings!

Did you know that field-ripened tomatoes have twice the
vitamin C of those grown in a hothouse environment?
The benefits of women are clear as well: strong evidence indicates that lycopene protects against a long list of other cancers, including breast & cervical cancers. It also protects the heart against oxidative damage and reduces the risk of heart attacks... one of the top killers of women in our North American society.

To get the most out of the lycopene in those tomatoes, you need to consume them with a little fat. Yes, fat. Lycopene is a carotenoid, and is a fat-soluble nutrient. Digesting them with fat-rich foods like oils, nuts and avocados make for an ideal nutritional situation.

And for those of you wanting to know the answer to a burning question... yes, they are a fruit and not a vegetable! But did you know that they are also, technically speaking, a berry?

Pete Luckett, in his Greengrocer's Kitchen recommends selecting tomatoes that are heavy for their size and firm, but not hard. And he says that a tomato should smell like a tomato -- fruity and earthy.

pizza sauce
This recipe is as simple as it gets. Easy to make and delicious as a pizza or a pasta sauce. Slightly sweet, and quite mild, it lacks the acidity or pungency of other tomato sauces. You can make it and freeze it now in small portions, or you can simply freeze the tomatoes in the amount required for the recipe and haul them out in the winter.

Heirloom tomatoes, like these at Dargatz Family Farm's booth
are rich in flavour and texture. Experiment with them!
8 medium tomatoes, frozen with skin on (simply pop into a large freezer bag & put in the freezer over night)
1 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 T. tomato paste
8 large basil leaves (or one large ice cube packed with chopped basil leaves from the garden)
2 t. raw, organic honey
sea salt & fresh ground pepper

The Plot has gorgeous (and inexpensive) bags of fresh basil.
Put fresh tomatoes from the Farmers' Market or the garden into a large ziplock bag & freeze until ready to use. When needed for this recipe, simply put the required number of frozen tomatoes into a sink of very hot water for 1-2 minutes. The skins will slip off. Coarsely chop them, still partially frozen, and plop them into a bowl. Set aside.

Heat a skillet. Add the oil and heat until just before it begins to smoke. Add the onion, and sauté until the onion becomes translucent. Add the reserved tomatoes, basil and tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat to med-low & simmer 45 minutes-1 hour, stirring frequently.

Remove from heat & purée with an immersion blender until smooth. Add honey & season with salt & pepper.

Freeze in 1c. containers for easy defrosting when making homemade pizza.

where can you find ingredients at our market?
Clean Eating is a cooking magazine that I thoroughly enjoy. They have put out a few "best of" collections. This recipe is from their first: Clean Eating: Improving Your Life One Meal At A Time, p. 77

Nutritional information from The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, by Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., C.N.S. (p. 66-67), and The Greengrocer's Kitchen, by Pete Luckett (p. 146)

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Contributed by Sheri Hendsbee

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