I took a car trip with my girls yesterday in search of a large box of ripe tomatoes perfect for making a big batch of this sauce.
We grew our own tomatoes again this year and they were as delightful as ever. My particular favourite from our crops was one called ‘The Mortgage lifter’ . This tomato is a little pink in colour and has a delicious, rich, sweet taste. The fruit it produced was more plentiful than any other variety we grew this summer. This variety has become very popular. It was developed by M.C. Byles of Logan, West Virginia. After crossing varieties for 6 years and selecting the best, he introduced this beauty that he named Mortgage Lifter in the 1940’s after he sold plants for $1 each and paid off the $6,000 mortgage on his house. We clearly did not grow as many as M.C. Byles as our large mortgage still looms and we still needing to top up our crops when I have the urge to make large batches of this sauce. We are coming to the end of tomato season but there are some amazing varieties out there and selling very cheap, in large boxes at the markets and meditteranean wholesalers. This is the time of year to make batches of this versatile sauce and keep it in your freezer for the cooler months ahead. You will high five yourself every time you take one of these tasty gems out of the freezer to whip up dinner. It is perfect for your pizza base, as a pasta sauce as well as the base for delicious meatballs as the weather cools.
Allow for a longer cooking time if you are making large batches and increase the quantities below, depending on how much you wish to fill your freezer. 1 litre is a pretty good start!
I hope you enjoy.
Versatile tomato and basil sauce with just a touch of nutmeg
Makes approx 1 litre
100ml olive oil
2 onions, finely diced
5 garlic colves, finely diced or crushed
2 kg tomatoes, cored, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
Freshly cracked black pepper
a large handful or two of torn basil leaves
a little fresh nutmeg, freshly grated using a microplane or fine grater
To peel the tomatoes, score a cross in the base of each tomato. Place in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for about a minute, then transfer to cold water and peel the skin away from the cross. Remove the core and dice into 1cm pieces.
Heat the olive oil in a pan large enough to accommodate the quantity of sauce you care to make. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute. Add the tomatoes as well as the sugar. Season well with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Simmer for approximately 40 minutes. Add the roughly torn basil as well as the nutmeg and cook for another couple of minutes.
This sauce can be enjoyed straight away or freeze it, in batches, for up to six months – nearly long enough to get you through until the next and new season of tomatoes when the weather warms again!