Owning a Thermomix, as I do, gives you delusions. Of course I can make that. Strawberry jam for about a thousand Devonshire teas at the school fundraiser? A mere bagatelle. Salted caramel icecream? Give me half an hour. A pair of tights with Middle Earth printed on them? Come on Kath, you know there must have been a Thermomix involved in there somewhere. So when the call goes out for three litres of pizza sauce for the school garden party one doesn’t even hesitate.
I only have the vaguest idea as to what they meant when they asked for three litres of pizza sauce. Clearly the volume is fairly straightforward. I’ve only ever put Leggo’s tomato paste on a pizza. I don’t much like the look of the Approved Thermomix recipe for tomato paste, surprise, surprise, so I thought I’d make something up.
Obviously tomatoes. For tomatoes, there is only one place to go, and that is to Frank. You can actually smell the tomatoes as you walk past his tiny unreconstructed shop. I don’t want the giant ridged ones that you slice and put on a sandwich, though they were a revelation the first time I tried them. They don’t turn your roll to slop. I got some little Romas he had packaged up as they were getting a bit soft and some small round ones that just smelled divine. Frank doesn’t seem to mind me sniffing his produce, or maybe he’s just too polite to say anything. But how can you tell if you don’t breathe them in first?
I thought some red onions might be nice too, sweeter than brown, and the garlic looked good, and some basil. To make a paste you have to get rid of much of the water in the tomatoes, and the suggested recipe involves just boiling them for ages. You know what’s better than boiled tomatoes? Almost anything. I thought I’d roast them instead. Aren’t they beautiful?
Don’t roast the basil, and don’t bother peeling the garlic cloves. I used two garlic cloves and one onion per pan. I drizzled them with balsamic vinegar and the special olive oil I bought from Fernando in Montefioralle. I sprinkled them with salt and a Tuscan salt blend I’d bought from a madly striped macelleria. As it cooked I started to suspect that what was blended with the salt was a whole lot of MSG, mmmmmUmami.
They roasted on and off for about two hours at 140 degrees. Hard to tell, there was a train station pickup and a choir pickup in there too. I didn’t want it to dry out too much. This looked about perfect.
I squeezed the garlic out of their skins, the first time I’ve ever successfully done this. I usually burn it. 140 degrees, give it plenty of time, that’s what I was doing wrong. The whole lot went into the Thermomix to blend, with a dainty covering of fresh basil.
Telling you that it made almost exactly a litre isn’t terribly helpful if I can’t tell you what weight of tomatoes I started with. Maybe a kilo. I will concentrate when making my next two litres and may even remember to tell you.
The consistency was just right and tasted divine. I’m resisting the urge to add sugar and salt, that’s what Leggos would do. There’s something else they’d do, something I hadn’t realised until I made my own. Have a look at the finished product.
It’s not the lighting. It isn’t bright red, it’s more a sunburn colour, sort of orangey brown. It tastes of sunshine and essence of tomato and I’m very proud of it. But no shelf appeal. Luckily it isn’t going on a shelf. And neither are its two friends that I’ll make just as soon as I get myself back up to Frank’s.