Updated Jan 16, 2019Chatelaine
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Use the tip of a paring knife to score a small X in base of tomatoes. Add 3 or 4 to boiling water. When skins split, about 30 sec, remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice water. Let sit at least 2 min to stop cooking. Repeat with remaining tomatoes. Starting from the X, peel off skin. Chop onions, or slice dark-green tops and root ends from leeks and discard. Slice leeks in half lengthwise. Fan out and hold under running water to remove grit. Thinly slice. Prepare celery and garlic.
- Heat oil in a very large, wide saucepan set over medium heat. Add onions, celery and garlic. Stir often until onions soften, 8 to 10 min. Reduce heat if garlic begins to colour. Meanwhile, chop tomatoes. They should measure about 12 cups. Chop zucchini. When onions are soft, stir in tomatoes, including seeds and juice, zucchini, tomato paste, fresh thyme, dried oregano and basil, bay leaves, 1 tbsp sugar, chili flakes and 1 1/2 tsp salt. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered and stirring occasionally, until as thick as you like, from 30 to 40 min. Taste and add remaining sugar and salt if needed. Discard bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Stir in fresh oregano and basil. For a smooth sauce, purée all or part of mixture in a food processor or blender, working in batches. Use right away or ladle into containers and seal. Will keep in the refrigerator for a week or in the freezer for 3 months.
Ripen tomatoes: Layer tomatoes with their stem ends down between sheets of newspaper or brown paper in a box.
Store tomatoes: Keep ripe tomatoes in a cool, not cold, area. Refrigerating saps their flavour and makes them spongy.
Freeze tomatoes: Spread whole tomatoes out on a baking sheet. Place in freezer just until firm, then pop into freezer bags. It’s a snap to remove one at a time when you want. Hold a frozen tomato under hot running water and the skin will split, making it easy to peel. Then chop and add to any tomato sauce recipe you’re making.