Neil asked for recipes for grilled tomato sauce and Michelle steered him
to some that look fabulous. In fact, I must try them soon, however, I
have a different take on the subject. I've been grilling tomatoes for
sauces for years now and I think that it isn't so important to follow a
specific recipe as much as you need to know what effect grilling the
tomatoes will impart to any given tomato based recipe. The simple fact
is that grilling the tomatoes imparts a wonderful smoky taste to
whatever you are creating. I've tried grilling tomatoes on the big
40,000 BTU. gas powered, backyard BBQ, the little charcoal porch size
BBQ, over the flames of a gas stove and under a broiler. All with about
equal results although I have probably deceived myself into thinking
that the nice Mesquite fire BBQ added some additional flavor.
Personally, I am convinced that it is the simple act of grilling the
tomatoes that does the trick, regardless of the heat source. It seems
to have something to do with releasing the sugars of the fruit.
Probably much more important in the equation is the quality of the
tomatoes you start with. If you start with the cardboard variety
available at most chain grocery stores you will end up with nice smoky
tasting cardboard. If you happen to be lucky enough to have your own
garden or can get some of the knock your socks off dry farmed tomatoes
at the local farmers market, well then, whatever you do with them will
Here is what Deborah Madisons "The Greens Cook Book" has to say on the
matter (I'm plagiarizing this verbatim)
"Grilled Tomato Sauce"
"Grilling tomatoes over a wood fire imparts a smoky fragrance that,
aside from the tomato itself, is the main flavoring in this sauce. It
goes beautifully with many dishes, particularly those made with corn."
With a grill going constantly in the restaurant, it is a simple
matter to roast tomatoes whenever needed, but for the home cook it is
more complicated. Take advantage of other grilling occasions to roast a
number of good ripe tomatoes, and later make a sauce, which can be
frozen or refrigerated for use within a day or two. Alternatively,
tomatoes can be broiled or roasted over a flame.
8 to 10 medium tomatoes
(they suggest oil, you don't need it)
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
sugar if necessary
Wash the tomatoes and grill them over the coals, gradually turning them
so that the entire surface of the skin blisters and chars slightly.
Pull off any pieces of skin that have become blackened and hard, but
leave everything else. Roughly puree the tomatoes in a blender or food
processor, leaving a little texture. (they say sauté the onion in oil
until translucent but we all know a little water will do just fine).
Add the pureed tomatoes and cook them over medium heat until they have
thickened slightly and excess water has evaporated, 5 to 10 minutes.
Taste and season with salt. If the tomatoes are very tart, add a pinch
or two of sugar to correct the acidity."
That is the basic grilled tomato sauce recipe. What you do with it from
there is up to you. Throw in some Garlic, Oregano, thyme and some fresh
basil and serve it over pasta, or use it in your favorite enchilada
recipe with some cilantro, turmeric, coriander etc. The point is that
it's really versatile and you can do just about anything with it that
you would do with tomatoes but it is different.
God this took a long time, I hope I didn't bore everyone to death.
But! If you haven't tried grilling your tomatoes, Please give it a
shot! It is one of those simple things that adds soo much complexity to
an otherwise normal meal.