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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Taking Advantage of a Good Deal-- Tomato Sauce

I believe in taking advantage of a good deal when it's available. I've mentioned before that we live on a budget, and I do all I can to stretch our money. Sometimes that is extreme couponing, sometimes that is going to the farmer's market, sometimes it's freezing bananas that are turning brown to throw in a smoothie later. This week it is making tomato sauce with grape tomatoes. We just got an ALDI here in our town. If you've never been to one, their concept is cheap. They typically have a small grocery store. You deposit a quarter to use a buggy, and get your quarter back once you park it. You take your own bags or pay for them. And they carry a large supply of not-name-brand food for cheaper prices. Or so they say. My love for Aldi revolves around the fact that on any given week they have some sort of produce super-duper cheap. So I pop in there and buy just those items and leave. This week they had pints of grape tomatoes for 49 cents. I don't know what they sell for where you live, but here on average they run $1.49 to $2.29. So that was a super deal. I bought six.

And oh, what to do with six pints of grape tomatoes? I mean the kids will snack on a pint, but they'll go bad if they don't use them. Last night I made three of them into tomato sauce and froze it. I mean, it'll taste better than what comes in a jar and cost me about $1.50 and an hour, and I tossed it in the freezer when I was done.

Grape Tomato Sauce

1 Vidalia Onion
4 cloves fresh garlic
3 pints grape tomatoes
olive oil
1 tbsp. sherry vinegar
1/2 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. parsley
1 1/2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. rosemary
2 pinches crumbled sea salt

In a large pot, pour about 1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil. Heat the pan, then add the onion sherry vinegar, and garlic, cooking until the onion is about halfway to translucent. Meanwhile, chop up the grape tomatoes. As you get a few chopped, add them to the pan. Stir often. Once all of the tomatoes are added, bring the sauce to a boil, then lower the heat. You are going to cook it overall for about 45 minutes. I don't have that long of an attention span, so I set the timer in 5 minute increments to remind myself to go back and stir it and be sure it wasn't burning. About 30 minutes into cooking, add all of the herbs. You are cooking until the tomatoes are mostly broken down and most of the liquid has evaporated. There will be a lot of liquid, because this is a lot of little tomatoes. Be patient. Once the liquid has evaporated, get a teaspoonful and taste it. Then, let it cool. I let mine cool, overnight, covered. But if this freaks you out, by all means, stick it in the fridge. Once it has completely cooled, take a container or freezer bag and label it, and pour the sauce in. The sauce should last for about 3 months in the freezer. To use, place your container in a bowl of hot water to thaw enough to remove from container, and add to pan. If you're using it for pizza, thaw completely in the hot water. Um, and although I prefer reusable containers, mine are all full or dirty. And yes, I am using Christmas ziplocs in May. I got them for a steal!

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