Monday, July 1, 2013

Pour Some Vegan on Me: Vegan Tomato Sauce!

Welcome to Meatless Mondays, here on Weekly Adventures! This week, I give you Tomato Sauce. Good, old fashion, not from a can - Tomato Sauce (a.k.a. Pasta sauce, spaghetti sauce, and/or tomato gravy.)

This recipe is both delicious, and easy to make.

What you will need:

Roughly 5lbs of rip tomatoes (you choose your favorite variety. I used vine ripened.)
1 medium sized red onion (or 1/2 of 1 large red onion) roughly chopped
4-5 Garlic Cloves, smashed
1 large carrot - peeled, and chopped into large chunks
2 sprigs of Basil (fresh)
Balsamic vinegar (roughly 2 tablespoons)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (old slutty olive oil won't do...)
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 carton of vegan vegetable broth, low sodium (boxes are better than cans)

You will also need:
1 large cooking pot
3 medium to large bowls
1 sieve (and I mean sieve, not colander)
1 wooden spoon (because tomatoes are acidic, stir with a wooden spoon.)
Ice - and plenty of water

And let's begin!
First you will need your tomatoes...

 Wash your tomatoes with cold water, and then take a paring knife and make an X (as seen above) on the bottom of each tomato. This is for peeling the tomato.

Drop each tomato into a pot of boiling water (didn't take a photo - was too busy boiling tomatoes). Let them sit in the boiling water for, roughly, 30 second. Remove with a slotted spoon, droop them in an ice bath.

This stops the cooking process, and helps the skins to begin to pull away from the meat of the tomato. From here you will peel your tomatoes. If they give you any problems, meaning the skin won't come off easily, as it should - pop the tomato back into the boiling water for an extra 10 second, or so.

Peel tomatoes. Discard skins.
Skinless tomatoes

Cut the tomatoes in half, squeeze out the liquid and seeds into the colander. Reserve the tomato juice, you'll need it later. Don't be bashful, feel free to jab your finger into the innards of the tomato to loosen up the juices and seeds. Place the skinless, seedless tomatoes aside until you're done with all of them. Use your wooden spoon to push out as much liquid as you can. Scrap the sides of the sieve. Set this all aside.

Now, a lot of recipes I've seen tell you to puree the onions, garlic, and carrots, and keep the tomatoes whole, but I like it the other way. Use your food processor, or mixer, to blend up the tomato chunks, as they blend - peel one large carrot and cut it into large chunks, do the same with your onion - and smash up four to five cloves of garlic.

Place 2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil in your pot, add the above listed veggies (you don't want to add the basil now) and sprinkle with a pinch of salt - let them saute for about 5 minutes. Add the pureed tomatoes, and the reserved tomato juice liquid. Sprinkle with pepper. Turn your burner on LOW and stir - then... walk away.

getting all bubbly on my stove top

Here is the hard part of this recipe. It takes time.

In roughly an hour, you'll want to add some of the vegetable broth to rehydrate your pot. Let the sauce cook down for a minimum of 2-2.5 hours, only adding a bit of broth. At the 2-2.5 hour mark add more broth and 2 tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar (if you don't like balsamic vinegar, you can use wine, or you can skip it and add a little more broth.)

Now you will wait another 1/2 hour - and then you will add more broth and your roughly chopped basil.

Now you will wait another 1/2 hour - and then you will taste it. You may want it to cook longer, because the longer you cook, the more concentrated the flavors become - and this equals even more delicious sauce.

Turn off the burner.

But we're not done yet! Remember all those chunky things we added early on? Well get your slotted spoon and your sieve again. Scoop out those veggie and place them into the sieve, inside the pot of sauce. Use your spoon to smash them against the side - release as much juice as you can. Remember to scrap the sides. (Waste not, want not.)

It'll look something like the above photo. 

And you're done! I froze mine, because I'm trying to bulk up, and save money. Lets be honest, pre-made food cost a lot, and if you want something that is vegan, organic, and delicious - you're looking at a $8-$12 jar. This sauce cost at least half that, if not less. 

*Alternatives - (because they're nice to have) if you are really, REALLY anti lumpy sauce, buy some cheese cloth. It's about $4 at target, and made a little sachet for all the veggies and even the basil. The flavor will seep into the sauce, and all you have to do is pluck out the sachet when you're done. 

**Also - if you skip the balsamic vinegar and basil, you have a nice base plain tomato sauce you can use to make enchiladas sauce with, or any other tomato based dish with, etc. 

***The cone sieve (or chinois) I used is my grandmother's. I remember her using it as a child as she mashed whole tomatoes through it with a pestle that has disappeared over time. You can buy a brand spanking new version - pestle AND stand from Amazon - or I'm sure at your local store that sells cooking supplies. You also have the choice of a food mill. 

Now - go eat!!

Pour some Vegan on me! IN THE NAME OF DELICIOUS FOOD! ;)

p.s. - Are you a vegan, or a part-time vegan or interested in veganizing your life? Comment below about your hopes and dreams, or even a recipe you'd love to see become veggie friendly! 

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