Smokey Pasta Sauce
Everytime I mentioned smoking food among my friends, they will immediately think of meat, fish or poultry. I was like that too. Until recently. I didn't realise you can smoke almost any type of food, vegetables, cheeses or fruit.
For this experiment, I decided to smoke tomatoes, onion and garlic to make pasta sauce. The end result is completely beyond my expectation. The smoking process really brings the umami taste in a tomato. The resulting taste is deeper and tastier. It is as if the tomatoes have been transformed into different vegetable or meat even. When I make tomato pasta sauce before, I normally blanched the tomatoes. There is nothing special about the sauce. It is bland unless I add more tomato paste, herbs, spices or meat to make it more interesting and palatable. Tomatoes sauce made from smoked tomatoes taste so much better and you could just have it on its own without any meat. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, this is a recipe for you. You may lose a bit on the carbon credit, but gain much more in term of flavour and I think It is hardly a trade off between the two.
All you need is some shaving of parmesan cheese and you have a nice pasta meal
For this recipe, I used a kilogram of roma tomatoes, a half bulb of garlic and a large red onion. You will get about two jars of pasta sauce which is enough for at least eight people. For smoking purposes, you need a handful of woodchips or pellets and a roast rack to place the tomatoes on a COBB.
Smoked tomatoes, notice that slightly brown colour
1. Cut the roma tomatoes in half and arrange on a roast rack. The COBB roast rack can only fit half of the tomatoes and therefore you need to do it twice. You can leave the garlic and onion whole.
2. Place a fine gauge steel netting at the bottom of fire basket to keep the woodchips or pellets from falling and lit up the wood chips using a small amount of fire starter. The woodchips/pellet is dry, so you don't need a big fire to light it up.
3. Once the fire extinguishes and smoke starts to build up, place the roast rack with tomatoes and put the COBB dome and smoke for about 30 minutes.
4. Take the tomatoes from from the COBB and cool it down. Once it is cooled down, peel the skin, and set aside.
To make the pasta sauce just blend or puree the peeled tomatoes, onion and garlic.
Heat up three table spoon of olive oil in a pot and add the tomato puree mix . Once it started to boil, reduce the heat and simmer to reduce the sauce to about half. Add chopped basil leaves before serving. Serve the sauce with your favourite pasta. You can use this basic pasta sauce for any recipe that requires tomato based pasta sauce or gravy.
Halved roma tomatoes ready for smoking. Notice the colour compared to the smoked tomatoes above.