Another Post About Tomatoes

It’s October, which means that fall is in the air!  The bad news?  The weather just can’t seem to make up its mind.  Last Friday I wore shorts; today I was in my peacoat, scarf, and boots!  The good news?  Our favorite fall dishes are back!

I am usually not a coffee person, but since I was up at the inhumane time of 7:45 this morning, I splurged on a little fall bliss: Salted Caramel Mocha from Starbucks.  I felt uber hipster with my Starbucks cup, but at least I wasn’t tweeting about it on an iPhone (I am a proud Android owner, thank you very much).

Aside from the drinks and apple everything,  some of my favorite fall flavors are yummy, warm soups that are perfect for those brisk fall evenings.  A few days ago, I tested out a new tomato soup recipe, and I am absolutely in love.  It is delicious and hearty, and it won 3rd place at my last NU Eats club meeting!

Mmmm Tomato Soup

Ingredients:
3 really, really big tomatoes (or a few more smaller ones)
1 onion
6 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 fresh basil leaves
Salt and Pepper
Shredded mozzarella cheese and garlic bread (optional)

Prep:
1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Line jelly-roll pan with foil.
2. Cut tomatoes into small wedges (if you’re using large tomatoes, about 8-10 wedges per tomato).  Remove as much of the seedy part as you can.  Spread evenly onto pan.
3.  Cut onion into wedges and place on pan between tomatoes.  Peel garlic and tuck away into tomatoes (so it doesn’t burn!).  Sprinkle with olive oil; salt and pepper generously.  Roast in oven for around 60 minutes or until tomatoes and onions are justtttt starting to get a little golden on the edges.
4.  When the veggies have about 5-10 minutes left in the oven, heat broth in a large pot and add tomato paste.  Stir until dissolved.  When the veggies come out of the oven, add to pot with basil leaves.  Simmer for about 10 minutes.

5.  Put everything into a food processor or blender and puree until smooth (or as smooth as you like it).  Return to pot.  Stir in heavy cream.   Simmer for another 10 minutes or so.
6.  Remove any remaining chunks.   Serve with shredded cheese and garlic bread.

Happy Eating!

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Onion Tomato Sauce

You go ahead and try to tell me that doesn’t look delicious

One of the things I hate most in the world is tomato sauce.  I think it’s grimy, thick, heavy, gross, and worst of all, tastes a little like vomit.  This is highly unfortunate as a love spaghetti, and what better to go along with spaghetti than tomato sauce?

One day I got this feeling that it wasn’t that I inherently hated tomato sauce, it was more that I just disliked the jarred/canned kind.  Determined to test my theory, I decided to make my own sauce using local, organic produce.  I scoured the internet for an easy recipe, and found one that looked simple and delicious by The Naptime Chef.

As you might have noticed from my other posts, onions are probably my favorite veggie ever. So of course, even though the recipe did not call for them, I felt the need to add onions as the sauce was cooking in on the stove.  Unfortunately, I added too many and had to improvise as I was cooking to thin out the sauce and dilute the abundance of onions.  Here is the recipe for the sauce I ended up making, which is absolutely delicious.  The first part is adapted from The Naptime Chef’s recipe, the rest is all mine.

Ingredients:
8-10 plum tomatoes, halved and cored
6 unpeeled garlic cloves
3 tbsp olive oil
1 small can (6oz) tomato paste
1/4 cup cilantro
1 – 1 1/2 cups onion (depending on how much you like onion)
1 – 1 1/2 cups water (depending on how thick/thin you want it to be)

Preparation:

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2.  Place halved tomatoes in a medium sized bowl and toss with olive oil.  Spread tomatoes face-up evenly across a jelly roll pan (cover the pan with aluminum foil to avoid a mess).

3.  Arrange the garlic cloves around the pan.  Place pan in oven and roast for 45 minutes.

4.  Place tomatoes and leftover liquid into food processor or blender.  Squeeze roasted garlic into processor as well.  Puree until smooth.

5. Pour puree mixture into medium saucepan.  Add tomato paste, onions, and cilantro.  Stir until mixed completely, then slowly add water until you reach the desired consistency (it will thicken a more as it cooks, so make it a little thinner to start).

6. Bring to a boil, stirring often until sauce is thickened.

7.  Enjoy!

One great thing about making homemade tomato sauce is that you can freeze it in a Tupperware container until you are ready to use it.  I don’t like a whole lot of sauce on my spaghetti, so the yield for me was upwards of six servings (about the same number of servings I get out of a box of spaghetti), but it might be different for you if you are a heavy-on-the-sauce type of person.

Of course, here’s a breakdown of cost for the broke college student:

8 plum tomatoes: $2 at the local farmers market
1 onion: $0.50 at the farmers market
Fresh cilantro: <$0.50
Garlic: $0.50
Tomato paste: $1
Box of spaghetti: $1
Total Cost: $5.50
Cost Per Meal: <$1

When you think about how much they charge for a plate of spaghetti at a nice Italian restaurant, it kind of makes you mad, doesn’t it?