By Analiese Paik
The brown paper bags full of petite, deep red Juliet tomatoes sat on my kitchen counter for a few days before I got around to cooking them. I was feeling too lazy to slice them in half for oven roasting, so I decided to make a fresh sauce on the stove top. The result was magnificent – rich, tomatoey, and slightly sweet, with a velvety consistency perfect for coating pasta. Without much effort at all, I had created a tomato sauce that took that evening’s homemade pizza to a whole new level.
Juliets are a hybrid variety of tomato and the last time I went to pick up my CSA at Sport Hill Farm, I tripled up on them, announcing to farmer Patti Popp that I planned to make a vat of Juliet tomato sauce and freeze some. She laughed and said how wonderful sauces made from Juliets were, and how simple. Too bad more people don’t know.
To make a rich and sweet Juliet tomato sauce, don’t bother peeling the tomatoes first. It’s too much work. The sauce probably benefits from being cooked with the skins, and you can remove the pieces of skin and seeds from the pureed sauce at the end with a simple pass through a food mill or heavy duty strainer.
Surprise! This sauce turns orange when you cook it and a deeper orange when it’s pureed. It’s gorgeous!
Stovetop Juliet Tomato Sauce
Ingredients: (double or triple as necessary)
- 1 pound of Juliet tomatoes, preferably organic
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2-3 T olive oil
- fresh basil, oregano or parsley (optional)
- Rinse tomatoes and set aside. Chop garlic while heating a pot large enough to fit the tomatoes on the stove. Add olive oil to the pot and when it shimmers, add the garlic and stir until fragrant over medium heat, a minute or 2.
- Add tomatoes to the pot along with 1/4 cup of water so the garlic doesn’t burn. The tomatoes will take at least 5-10 minutes to soften up and begin releasing their juices. I like to put a lid on the pot to speed this up.
- Once the tomatoes begin to release their juices and the skins start to burst, remove the lid and simmer for another 10 minutes or so until the tomatoes have all lost their skins or are quite soft.
- Use an immersion blender to puree the sauce right in the pot. Add salt to taste and a chopped herb if you’d like. The flavor of the sauce, with the garlic alone, is rich and complex.
- Strain the sauce through a large strainer or food mill heavy enough to hold the seeds and skins. Be sure to push down on the solids to release all the sauce. Cool the sauce and store in the refrigerator in glass containers. When making large quantities, be sure to chill in the refrigerator before freezing.