Mathew Green, director of culinary operations at Blue Orbit Restaurant Consulting, has the perfect solution for your end-of-season tomatoes.
What’s something you always make from scratch? I make my own tomato paste. The flavor is so concentrated and incredible. It doesn’t take a lot of work and it lasts forever. I can buy bushels of tomato seconds at the farmers market at the end of the season. I’m buying local seasonal produce and it’s very inexpensive.
When did you start? The first time I did was when I was executive chef at a restaurant in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I had a farmer who needed to unload a huge amount of tomatoes. Trying to figure out what I would do, I remembered a recipe for tomato conserva from Paul Bertolli’s book “Cooking By Hand.” I modified his technique by charring the outside of the tomatoes first to boost the smoky summer flavor. It takes some time, but not a lot of work. After the tomatoes get softened on the grill, they are passed through a food mill; that’s the part that takes the most effort. After that, they cook slowly for 6-7 hours all by themselves.
Makes about one pint
- 10 pounds tomatoes
- Olive oil, for greasing and packing
Wash the tomatoes, cut them in half so they will cook more quickly, and cook under a broiler or over a fire for about 5 minutes. Put them all together in a large pot with the lid on and let them steam for about 20 minutes to soften. Pass through a food mill and discard all of the seeds and skins that remain.
Spread the liquid out in a large shallow pan that has been greased with olive oil. The more surface area, the better, for the evaporation you will need. Cook in a 300-degree F oven for about 3 hours, stirring when the top begins to darken. Reduce the heat to 250F and cook for 3 to 4 more hours, until the sauce has thickened considerably. Continue to stir throughout this time as the top darkens.
Pack into jars and top with a layer of good olive oil. Store in the refrigerator and use often. Keeps for about 6 months.
Recipe courtesy of Mathew Green