Fresh Tomato Slow Cooker Sauce

CVS is now carrying Halloween candy for anyone who wants to get a jump on their shopping.  Isn’t it still summer?  Well I am a bit guilty of this fast forward myself – once the calendar page turns to August I start thinking about football, roasted dinners and comfy sweatshirts.  I love everything about fall, in part because it means the DC swealter is over but there are a couple of things that I always miss about summer.  Perfect corn, delicious drippy tomatoes and darling berries are at the top of my list.  I already gave you a terrific way of bringing those strawberries back in the winter.  Corn will just never be as good after the summer because there really isn’t a way to keep those sugars from losing their flavor after even a couple of days after being picked.  The good news is that those amazing tomatoes can be made into delicious sauce and used year round.  I hit the H Street Farmers market and asked for the biggest and ugliest tomatoes they had.  The genius of this sauce is that you don’t need or want instagram worthy tomatoes.  They are all getting cooked down anyway so bigger is easier to peel and ugly usually means the farmers will give you a discount.

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Last summer I made sauce in a dutch oven which also worked but to get that really good slow cooked flavor it meant keeping the stove on for hours which in August is not advisable!  This year I decided to try my slow cooker and the flavor was just as good.  This recipe makes a ton of sauce but that’s perfect because it should last a good 6 months in the freezer.  It’s a pretty basic tomato sauce that would be great with meatballs, on pizza, in chicken parm etc.  I threw in a couple of parmesan rinds to add flavor but it’s definitely not necessary.  If you buy hunks of DSC00792parmesan to grate as opposed to the pregrated stuff (hint – you should!) then when you get to the rind don’t throw it away.  Store them in a plastic baggie in the freezer and throw the rinds into sauces like this, or when you are making soup.  As it cooks, the rind releases salty parmesan flavor into the sauce.  Depending on how big it is the rind might melt completely into the sauce which is great, if not just scoop it out when you are done cooking.  Now you know why my freezer is always so full!  Another tip to pick up here is that when using tomato paste always make sure to cook it a little in the pan before adding your liquid.  Cooking it carmelizes the paste a bit and really deepens the tomato flavor.  This takes a little more work than your average slow cooker recipe as I like to sautee the onions and other aromatics before putting them into the slow cooker, but I really think it adds a lot and only takes a couple more minutes.  So go rescue those ugly tomatoes this week and make sauce that will last you well into dreary winter.

Fresh Tomato Slow Cooker Sauce (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  H Street Farmer’s Market bounty
Special Equipment:  slow cooker, immersion blender (optional)

  • 7 to 8 pounds fresh tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 6 ounces tomato paste (one small can)
  • 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 2 parmesan rinds (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped basil leaves

Score the bottom of your tomatoes with an X – you should have 10 or so large tomatoes.

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Get an ice bath ready – fill a large bowl with ice and water and place next to the stove.  Bring a large pot of water to boil and CAREFULLY drop in the tomatoes.  Let them boil for a minute or so, you will see the skin beginning to peel back at the X.  Use a scoop to take them out of the water and into the ice bath.  I did my tomatoes in 2 batches which was fine.  Once they have cooled down in the ice bath it should be really easy to pull off the skins.

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Here is a good time to have an extra bowl to put all the skins and seeds in.  Once you have peeled all the tomatoes, cut out the core and chop them into large pieces.  Once the seeds are exposed they are easier to get rid of, squeeze or use your fingers to dig out the seeds and discard them.  Its ok if some seeds end up in the sauce, you just want to try to get rid of the majority of them.  Add all of the tomatoes to the slow cooker.  Your kitchen will look like a murder scene – just roll with it.

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In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and garlic and cook for 5 minutes until softened.  Add the tomato paste, sugar, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes until the paste has darkened a bit and you can smell the spices.  Use the red wine to deglaze the pan and cook until most of the wine has cooked off, about 2 minutes.  Add the contents of the pan to the slow cooker along with the parmesan rinds (if using).  Stir everything together and set the slow cooker on high for 5 hours.  When its done, turn off the slow cooker, scoop out the parmesan rinds if they remain, and stir in the basil.

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Blend the sauce until smooth – easiest way to do this is with an immersion blender right in the slow cooker.  If you don’t have an immersion blender carefully transfer the sauce to a regular blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  Use right away or let cool and then store in the fridge for several days or the freezer for 6 months.

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Fresh Tomato Slow Cooker Sauce

  • Servings: approximately 14 cups of sauce
  • Time: 5 and a half hours
  • Print

Special Equipment:  slow cooker, immersion blender (optional)

  • 7 to 8 pounds fresh tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 6 ounces tomato paste (one small can)
  • 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 2 parmesan rinds (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped basil leaves

Score the bottom of your tomatoes with an X – you should have 10 or so large tomatoes.  Get an ice bath ready – fill a large bowl with ice and water and place next to the stove.  Bring a large pot of water to boil and CAREFULLY drop in the tomatoes.  Let them boil for a minute or so, you will see the skin beginning to peel back at the X.  Use a scoop to take them out of the water and into the ice bath.  I did my tomatoes in 2 batches which was fine.  Once they have cooled down in the ice bath it should be really easy to pull off the skins.  Here is a good time to have an extra bowl to put all the skins and seeds in.  Once you have peeled all the tomatoes, cut out the core and chop them into large pieces.  Once the seeds are exposed they are easier to get rid of, squeeze or use your fingers to dig out the seeds and discard them.  Its ok if some seeds end up in the sauce, you just want to try to get rid of the majority of them.  Add all of the tomatoes to the slow cooker.

In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and garlic and cook for 5 minutes until softened.  Add the tomato paste, sugar, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes until the paste has darkened a bit and you can smell the spices.  Use the red wine to deglaze the pan and cook until most of the wine has cooked off, about 2 minutes.  Add the contents of the pan to the slow cooker along with the parmesan rinds (if using).  Stir everything together and set the slow cooker on high for 5 hours. When its done, turn off the slow cooker, scoop out the parmesan rinds if they remain and stir in the basil. Blend the sauce until smooth – easiest way to do this is with an immersion blender right in the slow cooker.  If you don’t have an immersion blender carefully transfer the sauce to a regular blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  Use right away or let cool and then store in the fridge for several days or the freezer for 6 months.

5 Comments

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  4. Ashley says:

    One of your best posts yet! I coincidentally just brought home 10 tomatoes from the farmer’s market so will be making this! Wow mind blown on the parmesan rind situation.

    Like

  5. Beatriz Nunez says:

    Alex, if those tomatoes in the pic are the uggliest you get… I’ll send you some photos of the ones we get here that are suposed to be the best of the crop. You’ll be horrified. Plus we only get the pear-shaped tomatoes and soetimes little round ones. That’s why I have to do my sauce with canned peeled tomatoes.

    Love all your recipes!

    Tia

    Beatriz Núñez Intérprete Público Inglés 0212 9431114 HORARIO DE LUNES A VIERNES 8:30 AM a 12:30 PM y 2:30 PM a 6:30 PM

    Like

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