#16: Slow Simmered Cherry Tomato Sauce
Summer comfort food
Welcome to The Kitchen Club! I am working on a few recipes that can be used in multiple different ways. A way for me to give you a base that allows you guys to get creative and use the recipes however you want. Today’s recipe, Slow Simmered Cherry Tomato Sauce, is one of those recipes. Your subscription to The Kitchen Club helps these recipes get developed, tested, and sent out to you. Thank you!
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Summer is tomato season, this is something we all know. This year I planted six plants in large pots to keep on our deck. One downside to having deer everywhere is that they eat e v e r y t h i n g. Our back yard is too shady for plants in the ground and I was hoping the deck would get a little more light for the tomatoes to grow in a protected space away from the deer. The trees filled in quickly and soon there was no sun at all. So we moved the plants to the one spot on our property that gets full sun, right in front of our front door. The plants have been thriving but I have only harvested approximately six cherry tomatoes this season and the deer have gotten to the rest. Marco sprays them with natural capsaicin spray to deter them but those guys are ruthless and will snatch them up before they even ripen.
To satisfy my tomato needs this summer I have been buying them left and right anywhere they look good. The thing with tomato plants is that they need really healthy soil to produce really flavorful tomatoes. Like the terroir with grapes for wine, the soil that the tomatoes grow in greatly affects the flavor. Our local tomatoes haven’t been cutting it. Beautiful colors and shapes but completely lacking in flavor. I have been able to find beautiful heirloom tomatoes around me and then found out they are grown hydroponically. Nothing wrong with that but they also taste like nothing. All the tomatoes I have consumed this summer have needed a lot of salt and other flavors to make them taste semi-good. Now when I grocery shop I almost exclusively buy small varieties which have more flavor.
If you shop at Whole Foods you may have seen Hungry Hollow cherry tomatoes. They come from Durst Organic Growers in Northern California and have the best flavor—vibrant, juicy, and super sweet. Like a tomato should be. I purchased them when we lived in California and when I discovered them here at our local Kansas City Whole Foods two years ago, I almost cried with joy. They are the highlight of my sad tomato summer every year.
Over the last few months, I have been working on a sauce. A set it and forget it, use it for everything sauce. Something jammy and sweet with pungent tomato flavor. A little briny and acidic. Warm from pepper but not spicy. This guy took months of testing and I am thrilled to share my Slow Simmered Cherry Tomato Sauce.
There is nothing to this recipe, every ingredient gets tossed in the pot and that’s it. I have tested it with sauteing the shallots and garlic first and it just wasn’t necessary. If the three-hour cook time is deterring you away from this recipe, please reconsider! Once simmering all you have to do is give it a stir every 30 minutes. Truthfully I forget to do that all the time and it’s totally fine.
I tested this recipe with all different types of tomatoes. Cherry and small varieties are sweeter and bring more flavor. If you want to use other varieties my suggestion is to make sure at least half of the tomatoes are cherry tomatoes. I haven’t tested it with canned tomatoes yet, because I have had access to so many fresh ones, but I will this fall.
Pro Tip: You can freeze tomatoes! If you have extra, or you want to plan ahead, freeze some tomatoes this month to pull out and use in sauces and soups this fall and winter.
Now, on how to use this sauce, you can use it any way you want! My favorite is over creamy polenta. It is also great with pasta and on ricotta toast. Spoon it over braised kale or over leftover vegetables for a quick lunch.
Another variation is to add chicken to it. After two hours of simmering, add three skinless bone-in chicken thighs. Simmer for 30-45 minutes until it is fall off the bone tender. Pull them out, discard the bones, shred the meat, and stir it back in. This makes the sauce heartier on a day when a bigger meal is needed.
Slow Simmered Cherry Tomato Sauce has become our summer comfort food. The smell will fill your home and all day you’ll be looking forward to dinner. Enjoy!
Slow Simmered Cherry Tomato Sauce
2lb Cherry tomatoes
2T Olive oil
2 Large shallots, sliced
3 Garlic cloves, crushed
½ c Red wine
2T Balsamic vinegar
½ c Kalamata olives, halved or crushed
1T Olive brine
A handful of fresh basil leaves
In a medium-sized pot or dutch oven, add all ingredients. Bring to a boil and reduce to the lowest heat possible. Just enough for a soft simmer. Cover and forget about the sauce.
The sauce needs at least 2 hours of slow simmering but I think it is best at 3 hours. It doesn’t need any attention from you. The tomatoes will burst on their own, anchovies and garlic will break down, and magic will happen in your pot. Leave the lid on for the entire cooking process. 30 minutes before serving, place the lid ajar to allow some steam to escape and thicken the sauce slightly.
Some cherry tomatoes may refuse to burst. I like to leave them as they are but you are welcome to break them up with the back of your spoon if you like.
Just before serving, stir in a few torn basil leaves and let them wilt. Taste and season your sauce with salt and pepper at the end. Anchovies, kalamata olives, and olive brine are salty. Every time I add salt at the beginning of cooking, I over-salt it slightly.
Make sure to serve the sauce with extra fresh basil on top. Serve over polenta or with pasta.
To Add Chicken: After 2 hours of simmering, add 3 chicken thighs with the bone in but skins removed. Simmer for 30-45 minutes until the thigh meat is falling off the bone. Remove, discard bones, shred meat, and then stir shredded chicken back into the sauce.
We are heading into fall. I’m not ready for summer to end but I am looking forward to apple picking, a lot of cinnamony desserts, squash, soups, and chili!
Leave a comment and let me know what fall recipes would you like to make this year?
Talk to you next week, M