In an effort to take my cooking to a whole new ‘local’ level, I decided to make some of my favorite kitchen basics from scratch using as many local ingredients as possible. First up is a very simple ingredient that many of us already have in our pantry, tomato paste. You need 3 ingredients to make it. You probably have 2 on your counter right now.
The cooking process was extremely easy. I researched methods online where you need to seed and skin the tomatoes first but that wasn’t happening. I was roasting other veggies along with a chicken that day and needed to cut down on the clean-up. The paste turned out beautifully using one pan.
A food mill is the ideal way to separate the pulp from the skins/seeds. I bought mine online a few years ago and use it for soups, sauces, even mashed potatoes. If you don’t have one simply use a spatula to push the pulp through a fine mesh strainer. It will take longer but you will have a smoother sauce. My mill didn’t catch all the seeds but I was ok with a slightly more rustic end product.
Keep in mind the variety of tomatoes you use impacts the flavor and quantity of your end product. I know from experience that Roma are best for ketchup and jams so I would recommend using them. I had several kinds including heirloom, Roma, ‘on-the-vine’ and grape to use up so I went with it.
This is definitely a seasonal item and would be ideal for canning. The tomatoes don’t need to be perfect. At the end of a market many farmers reduce the price for excess produce that has reached its peak. They may even have slightly bruised stock they will sell for a discount. Ask them!
Last weekend I made my staple red sauce subbing in the homemade tomato paste. We were blown away by the rich flavor and silky texture it brought to the sauce! It tasted like the sauce had been simmering on the stove for hours and not 20 minutes at the end of a busy day. I can only image how the paste will taste in other recipes. I see burritos smothered in red chile sauce in our near future…
the new Mrs. B
- 5 pounds Roma or other meaty tomatoes
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper, optional
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Quarter tomatoes and place it a large roasting pan. Toss with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Roast about 45 minutes until tomatoes being to break down. Remove from oven. Process tomatoes through a food mill using the smallest milling disc to remove the skins and seeds.
- Pour pulp back into pan and return to oven. Roast 1½-2 hours stirring occasionally until reduced to a paste. Cool mixture. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Can also be canned using correct preservation processes for long term storage.