There’s no denying that fall has arrived, so you might as well embrace what this colorful and festive season has to offer before the real cold settles in. Plump Italian tomatoes, assorted hot peppers, braids of organic garlic, bushels of large leaf basil, not to mention our favorite seasonal squash family of pumpkins, zucchini, and delicious butternut squash – are all versatile ingredients that you should get to know. So, channel your inner Jamie Oliver and get cracking on some fresh sauces and preserves to tie you over until the Spring. Did I mention that our next throwdown theme is ‘Harvest Goods’? This means that our only guideline to the next throwdown, besides for working in teams, is that we must cook with fall produce. In order to get a head start, Many, myself and a few friends took a whole day to familiarize ourselves with some of the ingredients. Below you’ll find three fall recipes that are sure to keep your freezer full for months!
P.S. None of these ingredients were measured. It’s more fun to go by taste! These preserves make for great gifts!
ALL-PURPOSE TOMATO SAUCE
- Rinse tomatoes and cut an ‘X’ on the bottom tip. This helps take the skin off.
- In a large pot, blanch whole tomatoes in boiling water for about a minute or until skins start coming loose. Meanwhile, prepare a large bowl with ice cool water.
- Remove tomatoes from boiling water and let sit in ice water for a couple of minutes until cool to touch.
- Cut stem tips of tomatoes off and remove skins. Stem tips and skins can be composted.
- Over a large bowl, squish the tomatoes to remove all the seeds and juice. Set tomato flesh aside in separate bowl. Repeat until all tomatoes are done.
- Take liquid from tomatoes and pass through a sieve into a pot, removing all seeds.
- Bring tomato juice to a simmer for a couple of hours until it has reduced by half. This tomato juice concentrate can be used for soups or can be recombined into your tomato sauce.
- In a large pot, cook onions and garlic until golden. Follow by adding a few bay leaves.
- Add the crushed tomato flesh and cook mixture for a couple of hours. Do not season tomato sauce if you intend on using it for different purposes, such as the sauce for an Indian curry.
- Fill sterilized mason jars with your hot tomato sauce. Seal the jars and immerse in boiling water for 10 minutes. This way, your making sure your jars are air tight and sterilized and your tomato sauce does not have to be refrigerated or frozen.
SUN-DRIED TOMATO PRESERVES
- Preheat oven to 200 F.
- Rinse each tomato thoroughly. On a cutting board, slice the tomatoes in half.
- With a spoon, remove all juice and seeds. Set aside cleaned tomatoes on baking sheet, skin side down.
- Sprinkle olive oil over tomatoes, followed by a little brown sugar, coarse salt and pepper.
- Place baking sheet in oven and cook for 3 hours or until tomatoes have wrinkled. Make sure to turn tomatoes over half way through.
- In sterilized mason jars, add sun-dried tomatoes, whole garlic cloves, fresh basil and cover with oil. Seal and refrigerate.
- Thoroughly rinse the basil to remove all dirt or sand. Remove excess water in salad spinner.
- In a large pan over medium heat, cook the pine nuts until golden brown. Be careful not to burn the pine nuts as they brown very quickly.
- Place basil leaves and several garlic cloves (depending on how garlicky you like it) in food processor and add olive oil. (You can add as much or as little olive oil as you like depending on the consistency you’re looking for.)
- After a minute in the processor, add pine nuts, grated Pecorino cheese, salt and pepper to taste.
- Blend mixture well and adjust ingredients depending on what you like.
- If the pesto is a bit bitter, add a teaspoon of brown sugar.
- Fill sterilized mason jars with pesto and refrigerate or freeze.
A huge shout out to Aude, Seb, Meaghan and Antoine for their help!!!