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Big Sky Bites: Harvest Tomato Sauce

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Butter is the last ingredient added while the tomato sauce is simmering. PHOTO BY BELLA BUTLER

By Bella Butler EBS STAFF

BIG SKY – As September fades to October and the leaves on the aspens twinkle golden as they dance in the autumn wind, Montana soil offers its final yield before frost puts the crops to bed.

In the produce bowl on my counter, the vibrant colors of fall’s last harvest tempt me to dig in right away, but memories of cold, dark winter nights remind me that I can make these last morsels of summer go further than my dinner plate tonight. Tomatoes from my grandma’s garden are one of my favorite summer treats, and one of the best ways to save them for later is to cook them into a rich sauce.

Inspired by Marcella Hazan’s famous and simple recipe, this versatile tomato sauce takes only a few ingredients and can be used for a number of things when it’s time to unfreeze in January. My favorite part about it is that the recipe is truly a guide; a template to be used as a starting point. Feel free to add in other harvest flavors like a spicy pepper or seasonal herbs to make it your own.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of fresh diced tomatoes and their juices
  • 5 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 cup of chopped onions, size to preference
  • ½ tablespoon of olive oil
  • 3-4 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon of chicken bouillon
  • 2 teaspoons of herbs de Provence

Method

  1. Heat a medium stock pot and add olive oil.
  2. Add tomatoes and onions to the pot, stir and let cook covered on medium heat for 15 minutes.
  3. Stir some more, breaking down any large pieces of tomato. Add fresh and dried herbs, bouillon paste and salt and pepper. Stir again and let simmer on medium-low heat for 20 more minutes. Stir occasionally and add more salt and pepper as needed. Add butter.
  4. Remove thyme sprigs and let cool.
  5. Add sauce to container (I use glass mason jars), seal and freeze. When you’re ready to eat, defrost on medium-low heat in stock pot, adding water as needed.

Chef’s tip: Frequent tasting is key (and fun). Don’t be afraid to adjust based on taste.

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