They line my windowsills, overflow from bowls in the fridge, and get passed out to friends and still they take up any remaining space in the kitchen. Until they find their way onto my cutting board and into a pot, that is, simmered down to a delicious, rustic sauce that holds their summer sun–ripened flavor.
I’m talking about tomatoes – glorious tomatoes of every size and shape that come in droves and cannot be picked fast enough from the garden. Roma tomatoes, oblong and oval-shaped. Cherry tomatoes, petite, round, and great for popping into your mouth. Tomatillas, green spheres hidden inside a husk that hang like lanterns off the vine. And Big Beef tomatoes, oversized – as their name implies – plump, and perfect for slicing and placing atop a burger. This motley crew of tomatoes is what I have invading my kitchen, but I have a plan of attack for each and every one of them.
If you’re experiencing a similar takeover from your own garden or a farm share, and you simply cannot eat another Caprese Salad (is that even possible!?), gather up those plump, juicy tomatoes and let’s make some sauce.
I used the Roma tomatoes growing recklessly in my garden for this easy and quick recipe. Although they don’t look like the bulging mammoths you see in the store, these tomatoes unleash an amazing flavor that’s slightly sweet, but not overly acidic. As they cook down, their flavor condenses and becomes even more delicious. Simmering them with a high quality olive oil and a touch of garlic heightens their taste further – trust me, you’ll be sopping up the puddle left in the bottom of your pasta bowl!
For this sauce, I use the whole tomato – skin, seeds, and everything in between. Quite often tomatoes are boiled first to break the outer skin, which makes peeling them easy, and seeds are strained before the fruits are cooked down into a smooth sauce. However, I’ve eliminated those steps in order to save on cooking time – I know every second counts when hungry mouths need feeding.
In this recipe, the outer skin of the tomato will soften and cook down while it simmers; it also helps thicken the sauce and add more flavor. You won’t have a silky smooth end product, but rather a thick, chunky sauce that’s perfect for pizzas, pastas, and dipping bread. If you (or your picky eaters) prefer a smoother sauce, you can boil the tomatoes first; just remember to let them cool before peeling off the skin and proceeding with the recipe. I have prepared it both ways and truly do not have a preference.
Now, get your battle face and an apron on, and let’s conquer those tomatoes!
Simple Summer Tomato Sauce
makes 2 cups
1 quart Roma tomatoes (about 25-30 small ones)
2–3 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
Roughly chop the tomatoes, keeping all the juice. Mince the garlic.
In a sauce pan over medium-high heat, heat the oil then add the garlic. Sauté for 1 minute, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add tomatoes and their juices, sprinkle with salt, add sugar, and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 25-30 minutes (or a bit longer). The longer the mixture simmers, the more flavorful and thick the sauce will be. Every 7-8 minutes, use a wooden spoon to crush and smash the tomatoes. Once the liquid is cooked off the sauce is ready. Cook longer for a thicker sauce.