Roasted Garlic & Portobella Tomato Sauce
1 head garlic
1 tsp. olive oil
salt/freshly ground black pepper
8 medium to large home-grown, vine-ripened tomatoes
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, quartered and thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 portobella mushroom caps, diced
splash balsamic vinegar
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
10 fresh basil leaves, sliced into thin ribbons
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Separate the head of garlic into individual cloves and peel them. Remove tough ends. Place the garlic cloves onto a square of aluminum foil, drizzle with the teaspoon of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Seal the foil tightly and bake at 375 degrees F for about an hour, until cloves are quite soft and golden brown.
Peel the skins from the tomatoes. (Plunge whole tomatoes into boiling water for a few seconds, then remove them to a bowl of cold water - the skins will slip right off.) Slice each tomato in half, and squeeze the seedy pulp of each into a medium-sized bowl and set aside. Chop the tomato flesh roughly and set aside.
In a large skillet, heat 3 Tbsp. olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onion to pan and sauté slowly until golden brown and caramelized. Add minced garlic and mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook until mushrooms exude, and then reabsorb, their liquid. Deglaze the pan with the balsamic vinegar.
Mash the roasted garlic cloves and stir them into the mushroom mixture, along with the chopped tomato flesh. Then set a strainer over the skillet and pour in the tomato pulp. Press on the seeds to extract as much of the juice as possible. Discard the seeds. Add the bay leaves, oregano, red pepper flakes and about 2/3 of the basil. Bring to a simmer and let cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes fall apart and the sauce thickens. This will take quite some time, as it starts off pretty juicy – at least an hour. If you have a small can of tomato paste, I suppose you could stir that in to help thicken it up a bit; I didn’t have any, and it came out really nice without it. Just be sure to stir often towards the end of the cooking process as it gets thicker, or it will burn on you. Once thickened up, turn off the heat and stir in the remaining basil, and drizzle the top with the remaining Tbsp. olive oil.
I served this sauce over whole wheat spaghetti and topped it with toasted pepitos and pignoli nuts. The sauce was super sweet (don't add sugar to this one, no matter how much you're tempted!), and I can't help but wonder how great it would be on top of a homemade pizza... :o9