What kind of Italian am I? I confess, I never made homemade gravy (sorry, just so we are clear some of you may refer to it as tomato sauce, but we won’t go there) before. I mean, we make it using canned whole San Marzano tomatoes all the time, but we never made it from fresh tomatoes before. It was my husband’s idea the other day as the garden luckily is producing many tomatoes.
I admit it, I was a little nervous and I am sure I didn’t make it totally 100% the way it is supposed to be made (i.e. I didn’t take the seeds out, but honestly, they didn’t bother either of us) but, regardless, it was delicious and you could totally taste the freshness!
I started with a bunch of cleaned tomatoes. I tried to take as much of the stems off as possible. I then boiled a big pot of water. I added some salt, just because that’s how I usually boil water. I didn’t over crowd the pot as dropped tomatoes in, I wanted them to have enough room to bob around in the water. After the skins started to split I took them out one by one and placed in an ice bath.
Some tomatoes took longer than others, I guess it depends on the type of skin. Next time, I’d probably try leaving a tiny bit longer as I noticed the ones that cooked a little longer made for an easier time peeling the skin later. After I had all the tomatoes in the ice bath I started to peel the skins off and cut out any of the harder cores and any remaining stems etc. Once my tomatoes were all cut I threw some fresh basil in the container and put aside until I wanted to make the gravy.
Gravy time…since we love garlic I minced up several cloves to get ready for the gravy. Lately, we’ve been making our canned tomatoes more “rustic” and just hand squeezing the tomatoes into the heated oil and garlic but, since some of these fresh tomatoes weren’t totally soft, I opted to use the immersion blender this time instead. I heat up the olive oil in the pot then add the garlic cloves and salt and pepper. Cook until it just starts to smell, moving the garlic around as not to burn it. Add the tomatoes. I keep it just higher than medium heat for a little while because you do want it to cook, especially if you are adding a touch of red wine, you want to make sure it cooks out. I add some fresh basil, parsley, and oregano and let it cook a little at medium stirring rather often as you don’t want it burning. Once the tomatoes cooked down a bit I got out the immersion blender and pureed trying not to make it totally liquid. If you are going to simmer awhile, you can start that now. After a little I re-taste to see if it needs more salt and pepper and any additional herbs.
I’m not sure we could have been much happier with the end result. Especially since it was the first time attempting this! We will surely do it again! Cheers!