Blistered Pepper and Heirloom Tomato Sauce
Summer heirloom tomatoes. I think that may be all I need to say about this post. I mean, right? The colors and flavor of summer. And when it all comes to a screeching end it’s so sad. That day when you walk into the grocery store and there is one little overripe heirloom tomato left on the shelf. Then it’s back to those flavorless winter tomatoes that make me want to cry and run from the grocery store. Oh wait – that may have happened once. Don’t judge.
Well I’m getting ahead of it this year and making a LOT of this delicious and addictive sauce and freezing it for darker days. This sauce isn’t just any old heirloom tomato sauce though, folks. It combines the flavors of heirloom tomatoes and fresh blistered peppers. The peppers I used vary from mild to hot but there much more tomato flavor going on than pepper. I’ll get to that in the step by step portion. Just know the peppers are a background note and this isn’t a spicy sauce but they really add an interesting taste and texture to it. I blistered them under the broiler to mellow their intensity and remove their skin. The result is this super silky sauce that lights your taste buds up – let me tell you.
Let me your favorite way to use this sauce! A big thank you to my dear friend who inspired it by dropping off a big box of farm picked heirloom tomatoes beautiful fresh peppers.
Ingredients – Blistered Pepper and Heirloom Tomato Sauce
Step by Step
Blister the peppers
Blistering the peppers simply means placing them under the broiler or on an open flame and charring the skin. It helps separate the skin from the flesh and gives the pepper a sweeter, more mellow flavor. I add the onions and garlic to the sheet pan as well because it also softens their flavors a bit and makes them tender.
Cut the onions in large chunks and leave the garlic whole but the skin peeled off. For the peppers remove the stems and deseed and then slice in half length-wise so the peppers can lay skin side up and kind of flat on the sheet pan.
Drizzle with a little olive oi and season with salt and pepper and then place under the broiler until peppers are blackened. You may need to rotate the pan in the oven one or twice to ensure all the veggies are under the flame at some point. They should look about like this when they are done.
While still hot use tongs to place the peppers in a bowl and then cover with plastic wrap. The steam from covering them helps remove the skin from the flesh. Let sit for about 10 minutes and then remove the skin. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect you will be blending a blender and a little skin won’t matter.
Making the sauce
The star of the dish is those beautiful, juicy heirloom tomatoes. The peppers and onions and garlic are more of a background note. What’s special about heirlooms, and why they cost more, is they are so flavorful. You get a lot more tomato flavor and a lot less water content and seeds. So use as much of the tomato as you can and just toss away the very core by using a sharp paring knife to cut it away. There shouldn’t be much waste.
Then cut into large chunks. You will cook it down and then puree so the exact size of the pieces doesn’t matter.
Then in a large pot add a little olive oil and when hot add the tomatoes and salt.
Cook until the tomatoes start to break down. Should take about 5-7 minutes. Then add back in the pepper, onion and garlic mixture.
Continue to cook for 10-15 more minutes. This blends the flavors and also cooks off some of the water and helps thicken the sauce. You can go a little longer if you need to.
The butter is just a nice finishing touch and gives it a silky texture and the basil adds a little more flavor.
This recipe/post is all about the sauce but I wanted to give at least one idea of what to do with it. Zucchini are also in season and I happened to have a fairly good sized one on hand. It was just me for dinner that night so I made a quick and easy stuffed zucchini and paired it with the sauce. It was filling and so yummy. The stuffing, as seen below, was just a quick mixture of chopped pine nuts, fresh chopped basil, parmesan cheese and I used Gluten Free panko breadcrumbs but you can use what you prefer. In hindsight I think a little lemon zest would have been fantastic, too.
In a hot skillet cook the zucchini flesh side down. If you are grilling this can be done on the grill, too. Even better.
Cook until tender but not mushy.
Scoop out just enough of the center flesh to fill it with the pine nut mixture.
The yummy mixture I used or get creative and do parmesan and ground beef or chopped spinach and feta.
Here’s what they looked like before I plopped them under the broiler for just a minute or two. Don’t forget to drizzle with olive oil first to get that golden brown color on top.
Lay a little of the rewarmed sauce down on the plate and that stuffed zucchini on top and dinner is served! Warning: better than it looks.
Stuffed zucchini over sauce
*Also great over pasta with sautéed spinach and red onion and topped with a grilled chicken and a little parmesan. I did that the next night.
- 3 lbs heirloom tomatoes (mostly red but any variety)
- 1 Anaheim chili pepper
- 1 Fresno chili pepper
- 1/2 yellow bell pepper
- 1 yellow onion (approx 2 cups roughly chopped)
- 4 large garlic cloves, whole
- 1/4 cup loosely packed basil
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 Tablspoons olive oil
- Sea salt or kosher salt and black pepper
- Line a sheet pan with parchment.
- Cut stem from peppers and remove seeds. Cut peppers in half lengthwise and lay on the sheet pan, skin side up.
- Take the skin and ends off the onion and chop into big pieces. Peel the skins off the garlic and place both garlic and onions on sheet pan with peppers.
- Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper and broil until the skin on the peppers is blistered or blackened. You may need to rotate the pan under the broil to achieve this.
- Remove peppers to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Wait 10 minutes and remove the skin from the flesh of the peppers.
- Core the tomatoes and cut into large pieces. In a large pot heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and then add the chopped tomatoes and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and a little pepper. Cook over medium heat until the tomatoes start to break down.
- Add the peppers and onions and garlic into the tomatoes and cook for another 10-15 minutes. Remove the mixture to a blender. Add 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter and basil. Blend to combine and then turn speed up to puree.
- Pour sauce into glass jars or freezer containers if storing. Use with your favorite recipe.