Stewed Tomatoes

This is a staple recipe for me. Usually, I water bath can it in pint jars, but I’ve put my canning ingredients away for the season, so I’m just going to make to to store in the fridge (and use within a week) or freeze. For canning, this recipe has to be fairly precise and needs to have some acid added, but for fridge or freezer storage you don’t need to worry about acidity. It’s also a very flexible recipe; change the herbs to your taste, add more or less salt, include some pepper, more garlic and onion, or alter the acid to suit you.

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Stewed Tomatoes

10 roma or paste tomatoes
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 onion
1 clove garlic
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp. dried basil (fresh is ideal, but not always available)
Salt (to taste)
1 Tbsp. lemon juice (can be subbed for white wine or balsamic vinegar)

Step one is to peel the tomatoes. I’ve read that freezing them will make the skins slip right off, but I prefer to use boiling water. Bring 3-4 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Meanwhile, fill a large mixing bowl with ice water. Once the water has come to a boil, gently place the tomatoes into the pot and let sit for 30-40 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, immediately transfer to the ice bath to cool. I tend to do the tomatoes in batches of 3-4. Once the tomatoes have cooled slightly, use a small knife to create an X cut at the base of the tomato (opposite from where it was attached to the vine and slowly peel away the skin. You can discard it or save it in the freezer for stock, which is what I do.

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Next, heat the oil over medium in a 2-3 quart pot. While the oil is heating, dice the onion and add to the pot, stirring to coat. Mince the garlic and add to the pot.

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While the alliums (onion and garlic) are cooking, core and chop the tomatoes, discarding the core and seeds. How large or small the pieces are is entirely up to you. I tend to chop them into approximately half inch squares.

Once the onions have softened, add the tomatoes and bay leaves. Stir to mix. Continue to cook on medium for approximately 10 minutes. Stir in basil and any other herbs you’re using, plus the lemon juice and salt. Cook for another 5 minutes.

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This batch will be stored in the fridge; it’s a great base for my vegetable soup, which I’m sure I’ll be making more of soon. It’s also very easily doubled, tripled, or more. Large batches are especially great when tomatoes are local and fresh.

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