small batch stewed tomatoes

September 13, 2013


I was just given Domenica Marchetti’s new cookbook The Glorious Vegetables of Italy and in it I found a recipe for small batch stewed tomatoes. Given the season and the number of fresh, glorious, local tomatoes out there, I thought I would whip up a small batch. I think everyone should do some canning each year, even if just a little bit, to keep in touch with preserving one’s own food so we don’t lose the knowledge and skills, and what’s more, the connection to age-old traditions. Domenica taught me a trick with this recipe and that’s to grate the tomatoes, leaving the skin out of the concoction. I wasn’t convinced but I like it. She discards the seeds as well but I can’t do that – I like them and that’s where much of the flavour is. She also doesn’t use onions, but I do. So what you see here is a variation but a really good one. I ate it for lunch. As a soup. As is. So good. But with the rest of the batch, I’ll tuck the jars away and pull them out for stews, risotto rosso, and other dishes that need summery-fresh-hand-preserved-tomatoes to truly sing.

1/2 cup olive oil

2 onions, finely diced

12 lbs ripe tomatoes

3 tsps fine sea salt

small bunch basil leaves

6 tbsps freshly squeezed lemon juice

Wash and sterilize 6 large mason jars and their lids by immersing them in boiling water for 10 minutes.

In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes until the onions are soft and translucent.

Meanwhile, cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise. Place a box grater over a large mixing bowl. Hold the cut side of a tomato flat against the large holes of the grater and grate the tomatoes, pressing gently, until only the skins is left in your palm. Continue until you have grated all the tomato halves. As you work, collect the pulp and any juice that collects in the bowl. Collect the tomato skins in a separate bowl. When you have processed all the tomatoes, and collected all the skins, put the skins in a colander and squeeze them hard over the bowl with the tomato pulp to catch any residual juice. Discard the squeezed skins.

Carefully pour the tomatoes into the saucepan with the oil and onions. Season with the sea salt, raise the heat to medium, and bring the tomatoes to a simmer. When the juices start bubbling, return the heat to medium-low and let the tomatoes simmer, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes, until thickened to a nice consistency. Stir from time to time to prevent the tomatoes from burning. Remove from the heat and stir in the basil leaves.

Pour 1 tbsp of the lemon juice into each of the sterilized jars. Ladle the tomatoes into the jars, leaving 1 inch of space at the top. Screw the lids on tightly and process for 35 minutes in a boiling water bath. Store in a cool, dark place.

One Response to “small batch stewed tomatoes”

  1. mary richardson Says:

    Hey we must be on the same wavelength because that is what i’ve been doing this weekend too. My amazing neighbour lise gave me a huge box of perfect ripe tomatoes and i have been canning them. I still scald them in water and removethe skins, and instead of basil, which is long gone from my garden following frosts, i added lots of fresh parsley. I’m having a bowl with a grilled sheep cheese sandwich for lunch. Yummmm. Mary

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