Life in Balance: Tomato sauce is delicious, nutritious — and fun to make

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 14 2012 6:25 p.m. MDT

Tomatoes are roasted with onions before making them into a sauce.

Dian Thomas, Dian Thomas

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One of the most exciting parts of late summer and fall are the fresh fruits and vegetables that are available.

At the top of my lists are the garden-grown tomatoes. If you do not have a garden, you can find freshly picked tomatoes at the farmers market through September and into the early part of October.

I must confess that a fresh tomatoes sandwich on whole wheat toast is at the top of my list. Right after that is homemade tomatoes sauce, which is lean and naturally light. I love making my own, as I know the quality of the tomatoes, onions and garlic that go into it.

Tomatoes have a rich flavor with a high water content and soft flesh, which cooks down into a wonderful sauce. Its ability to be combined with many different ingredients makes is excellent for pastas, pizza and a base for chili, enchiladas, etc.

Guida Ponte, a wonderful chef that I met when I was on the NBC "Today" show, shared her delicious recipe, which I have been using for years.

I make it in the fall and use it throughout the year in any dish that I want a rich tomatoes sauce. I find it much more versatile if I do not add any spices to it, but wait and spice it for the dish I am going to use it in.

Guida Ponte's Tomato Sauce

15 tomatoes (fill the tray with tomatoes)

2 large onions, peeled and quartered

5 cloves garlic

Cover a large rimmed baking sheet with heavy-duty foil. Cut the stems from 15 tomatoes (I use medium or large) and place them cut-side down on the tray, leaving about 1/2 inch between them to allow for hot air circulation. Add two large peeled and quartered onions and five cloves of garlic to the baking sheet and place it in a 350° F oven. Let the vegetables roast until the tomatoes are softened and their skins slip off.

Remove the tray from the oven and let the vegetables cool for a few minutes, then skin the tomatoes with a pair of tongs, if desired. Place all of the vegetables into a blender and process. Pour the mixture into a large, heavy saucepan and simmer at a low temperature, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have thickened to the consistency of a spaghetti sauce. This may take several hours. I do not add spices until I thaw and use the tomato sauce.

Remove the thickened sauce from the range and allow it to cool. Pour into pint or quart jars. Fill the jars to within 3/4 of an inch of the top and freeze. Don't put the lids on yet or the jar might break when the sauce expands during freezing. Put the lids and rings on after the sauce is frozen. The sauce will last one year in the freezer.

Thaw in the refrigerator and use in your favorite tomato-based dish.

— Guida Ponte

TV personality and author Dian Thomas shares her journey of weight loss, exercise and life on the run every other Wednesday in the Deseret News and at www.DianThomas.com. She also takes tour groups to China. Contact her at www.www.dianthomas.com/travel.htm.

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