Zesty Tomato and Orange Sauce

Fresh tomato and orange sauce (via abeautifulmess.com)Is there anything better than warm pasta topped with fresh tomato sauce and a little melty cheese? I love many, many food combinations (understatement of the year?), but there is just something so perfect about simple pasta dishes. This is comfort food at its very best.

Where I live, tomato season is in full swing. I don’t currently garden; it’s one of those hobbies that I admire but just am not sure I want to dedicate the time to. Not to mention I have a hard time keeping my house plants alive. 🙂 But, I love opening my CSA box to see what goodies we got for the week, and lately it’s been full of tomatoes! So I’ve been experimenting with lots of different tomato recipes.

Fresh tomato and orange sauce (via abeautifulmess.com) This sauce is very much inspired by a delicious soup I had at Cherry Picker recently. It was a tomato soup that included a bright pop of orange flavor, which I thought was just PERFECT for summer. And that’s exactly what this fresh tomato sauce is all about. I def think it would still be completely delicious in the winter months, but the citrus just makes it feel a bit more summery to me.

If you’ve never made homemade tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes before, do not be intimidated. It’s not hard! It does take some time though, as we’ll be cooking the tomatoes for quite a while so our sauce will become thick and flavorful. You don’t need to stand over the pot the whole time though by any means, so just plan to get some laundry done or listen to a podcast or something. I wouldn’t leave your pot completely unattended, but you certainly don’t need to hover. So don’t be intimated by the cooking time here.

Also, if you happen to garden (high five to you!), feel free to double or triple this based on how many tomatoes you have. This is just how many I had on hand, and it will make about 2 heaping cups of sauce. Feel free to make more and freeze if you like.

Homemade tomato sauceZesty Orange and Tomato Sauce, makes 2 heaping cups

3 lbs. and 10 oz of tomatoes, any variety that you like or have is fine
1/2 white or yellow onion
1 orange
salt, pepper, and a big pinch of cayenne

First heat a large pot of water to boiling. Have another bowl of cold water with ice set to the side. Remove the stem area and slice a small X in the bottom of each tomato.

Blanch the tomatoes in the boiling water for 30-45 seconds, until you see the skin beginning to peel off. Remove to the cold water.

How to stew tomatoesRepeat until you’ve blanched all the tomatoes. Then peel off the skins.

Cut a whole onion in half, and the half you plan to use, remove any papery skin but leave the onion intact so it’s all one big piece (if it falls into two pieces over time, that’s fine). Peel the skin from the orange. I use a potato peeler to do this and it works well. You’re looking to get big, long pieces of orange skin, but not much of the white pith underneath. A little bit is OK, but aim to get mostly the orange skin and not the white pith as it can be a little bitter. Give the tomatoes a rough chop or blend for a couple seconds in a blender.

In a large pot combine the tomatoes, onion, and orange skins. Season with just a little salt and pepper, but don’t go crazy as we’ll add more later. Cook over low/medium heat for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. The tomatoes will break down and much of the liquid will reduce.

How to make tomato sauce from fresh tomatoesRemove the onion and orange skin pieces from the pot. Add the juice from half the orange (about 2 tablespoons). Taste and add salt and pepper plus a big pinch of cayenne.

Fresh tomato and orange sauce (via abeautifulmess.com) Serve this over pasta, gnocchi, or use as pizza sauce. You can refrigerate anything you don’t use that day in an airtight container for up to three days. If you plan to store this for longer, I would freeze in a ziplock bag or other airtight container. You can use this sauce in the Weekday Weekend Challenge on non-dairy, whole grain pizzas or on top of whole grain pastas or zoodles. Enjoy! xo. Emma

Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman