One of my favorite things to eat is a ripe tomato, plucked fresh from the vine with a dash of sprinkled salt. That’s all, nothing else, just like that, delicious. Yet, I find it amazing that at one point tomatoes were shunned, even considered evil by some cultures. In contrast early natives to Mexico supposedly believed to observe another ingest the seeds of a tomato would impart the observer with the ability of divination. In yet another twist, early Brits & Americans believed the fruit to be poisonous, even unfit to for consumption (le GASP!) Inconceivable.
Actually not really, they were sorta-kinda right. Tomatoes have very low levels of a toxic poison called “tomatine”. Don’t worry there is no reason to panic or go tossing all your gorgeous tomato fruits in the hazard waste bin. There isn’t enough to cause harm and it’s mostly found in the leaves and stems.
Toxins and superstitions aside I wouldn’t stop eating them anyway – it would be like asking me to stop eating butter or chocolate and well that’s not happening any time in this lifetime,
or the next.
It is my goal to finally grown my own tomatoes this year. I will plant them, I will water, feed, cherish and love them. They will grow and I will consume them.
Believe it or not something magical happens when you cook tomatoes that increases levels of lycopene, one of the strongest antioxidants known. In fact eating enough cooked tomatoes (about 1/4 cup a day) has been shown to prevent ultraviolet damage to the skin. You DO have to eat them, not rub sauce on you as sun screen; although it may work, I’m not about to hit the beach looking like the main course in an Italian cookout.
Speaking of Italian (nice segway huh? ya thought you would like that), The Butter Family took a vacation last week. Yes it was to Disney (really do you even need to ask at this point?) I know there is a real world outside of Disney World and I promise someday we’ll go see some of it. No I pinky swear promise. But it’s practically in our backyard (an hour away) and perfect for a quick escape.
Our favorite place to eat is Via Napoli at the Italy pavilion in EPCOT. The pizza is unbelievable and the sauce….sigh. I asked our waitress how close to the real deal from Italy was and she did say it was as close as you can get without being there. It’s better than Chicago, better than New York, it’s THAT amazing.
Being the inquisitive person I am, I ask our lovely waitress, Ivonn what the secret was to a really great tomato sauce and she simply replied… T&T.
No not dynamite but….tomatoes and time; a lot of time…and olive oil.
Ivonn said when she was little she would wake up early and her grandmother would already have fresh tomato sauce cooking for lunch later in the day. She told us to put tomatoes in a pot on low and just let them cook for about five hours…FIVE hours. That was the basic recipe and one could add a little onion or this and that from there.
You know what happens next of course. I came home and got to work. Now Ivonn said you could easily use canned tomatoes, the key is in the time it takes to cook them up. Of course my first time out I had to go through the full gambit and bought a basket full of Roma toms. Running home w/ my treasures I pealed them lickity split, chopped them, added them to a pot and tossed in a few things that sounded delicious.
My house smelled amazing.
This recipe is a reconstruction (as well as I can) of what I added to my sauce. I didn’t use a recipe, just started with the base. I recommend you do the same and just add a little here and there until you get the taste you like.
I will absolutely be making my own tomato sauce from now on. Italian style, regular plain style, Southwest even, the possibilities are limitless to me, as they are you.
Eat fresh and enjoy!
- 28 fresh Roma tomatoes OR 2 28oz cans of crushed tomatoes
- 1 medium onion, minced
- 6 cloves of garlic
- ¼ cup of olive oil
- ¼ cup red wine
- Salt to taste
- Fresh or dried basil, to taste
- If using fresh tomatoes:
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- slice a thing cross into the bottom of the tomato skins.
- Add the tomatoes to the boiling water and cook for 20-30 seconds (only until the skins start to break).
- Remove from water, let cool, skins slide right off.
- Cut off stem end of the tomatoes, chop.
- In a medium to large pot, heat olive oil on medium.
- Add onion and garlic, cook until onions are translucent.
- Stir in red wine and cook for two minutes.
- Toss in tomatoes, cover and cook on low, low heat for 3-5 hours.
- Add salt and basil as desired.