Guest Author - Jason Hodge
Packed full of lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-carotene and other heart and health protecting phyto-nutrients, tomatoes are a tasty way to promote and boost your health and well being. Here's one of the ways I use them to make my basic no-measure, tomato sauce.
When I make my sauces, I have a different point of view than a lot that I've seen. I happen to like leaving the seeds in my dishes. I'll tell you why. Each food has it's own flavor profile that impacts your total overall health. Flavor in indigenous medicine effects different systems in your body. When a component is removed from a food, the organs or tissues it has positive influence on has to do without. I believe, by and large that our bodies are supposed to taste all of the flavors of a food in order to stay in balance, so for that reason I tend to leave a lot of things in my dishes that traditional chefs take out. It's simply for the health of it and I haven't had any complaints, so it must be alright.
For my basic tomato sauce I dice or crush my tomatoes in a skillet or pot with some olive oil that's been heating and some sea salt. I'm a bit of an onion junkie, so I put diced onions in a lot of my sauces first, caramelize them and then add the tomatoes.
Now here's what I look for...
I look for the tomatoes to break down and get a saucy appearance to them and a sweet aroma. I leave the skins on them as well. For me it's all about the nutrients first then the flavor. The beautiful thing is that I never have to sacrifice either one.
Once they break down, I take a slotted spatula, spoon, potato masher, etc. and mash them into a smooth consistency and add my fresh and dried herbs, fresh minced/crushed garlic and if I want it creamy or cheesy, I'll add a nut or seed cream to it, like pumpkin or cashew or I'll add some soy cheese. One of my favorites, for its ease of use is the Soy-Sation brand Shredded 3 Cheese Blend. I love it because I don't put in my mind that it is dairy cheese, but instead I look at it for what it is, the flavor it imparts and how it melts.
I love this method because I never have to measure. Everything can be handled by observing the look and feel of it. All I have to be concerned with is how much I want to make. To get the best flavor I always make sure that I don't put more tomatoes than can get a good sizzle going in the oil. If they are too many in your pot or skillet and their initial water doesn't have an opportunity to evaporate a little to concentrate the flavors you'll end up with soggy tomato sauce and you don't want that. So the general rule of thumb I go by, in this basic tomato sauce, is that:
The oil should be less than 1/16 of an inch and the tomatoes shouldn't be more than 1 inch.
Nothing, other than the salt, should be added to the pot until the tomatoes have broken down [unless I'm doing the onion deal].
Once you've got this one down you can expand it in many ways that completely shatter the rules I've mentioned here; but by that time, you'll see these rules and all others when it comes to the food world as simple guidelines to default to and springboard off of.
As always, it's been my pleasure sharing food with you. Until next time...