Sunday, June 19, 2011

In the Sun: Tomato Sauce & Schiacciata

As promised, here are photos of the tomato sauce and schiacciata that I made in the sun oven. Not as promised, I still did not take the photos. Rick did, and he also pointed out that I haven't given him photo credit for his other photo contributions to this blog. Oops. Thanks Rick!

I tend to start a lot of my solar cooking indoors. I think some meals come out best that way. The sun will cook your meal all day—and solar oven makers and enthusiasts claim nothing can burn—but at the same time it doesn't quite brown the same way. The food will, however, retain more of its flavor and moisture than a traditional oven. The option is yours as to whether you'd prefer to jumpstart the sauce, or simply put it straight outside. I prefer to give a quick saute to some foods—quicker than I normally would if cooking on the stove, though. For those of you who don't have a solar oven, well, make the sauce in a crockpot and let it simmer on low, or put it on the back burner of the stove on low. It's all good!

Solar Oven Tomato Sauce

Yum, smells good! photo by Rick
Mince two garlic cloves and about 1/4 of a medium onion and saute for a minute or two in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Next add some fresh basil, parsley, and oregano, amounts up to you. (I let the herbs saute for as long as it took me to get the wine out of the cabinet). Add about 1/4 cup of red wine and let it simmer for a few minutes. I like the Pomi brand of tomatoes because of their lack of BPA, but add whatever brand you like and heat for maybe another 2 or 3 minutes. Cover the pot and put in the solar oven. I set mine out at about 10:30 a.m. for three hours. The flavors blend wonderfully and the taste is rich and mellow. There have been times I've left the sauce out all day, but I wanted to get the schiacciata out also. 

Proofing the Yeast

Meanwhile, I had proofed some yeast as I was starting the sauce. Normally I use instant yeast and long ferments, but in this case I added a tablespoon of active dry yeast to 1/4 cup warm water with a pinch of sugar. I left it for 10 minutes to do its thing while I got the sauce together. Once the sauce was outside, I finished getting the schiacciata together.


Solar cooked schiacciata. photo by Rick
Put 3 cups of flour in a bowl. Make a well and add the proofed yeast and as much water as you need to make a dough that isn't too dry or too wet. I know these are pretty loose directions, but it's all about developing a connection with your food and improvising not only with what's at hand, but what the weather is like on any given day (dry, humid, pouring rain, etc.). For a better estimate, I used a cup of water along with the 1/4 cup already used for the yeast, for a total of 1 1/4 cups on this particular day. Knead the dough for 5 minutes, cover with a clean cloth, and leave for an hour or two.

Erica and I went off for our daily run, distance unknown, but it takes an hour. Hopefully it's more than a mile! Kidding. Anyway, once home and showered I shaped the dough onto a tray sized for the solar oven and let rise for another hour. Poke some holes all over the top, drop some kosher salt in the holes, liberally drizzle top with extra virgin oil, and sprinkle rosemary all over the top. Place the schiacciata in the solar oven until done. Time will vary according to how hot the solar oven gets. For those of you who are cooking it in a conventional oven, cook in a 450 degree oven until brown on top.

Happy eating!!!

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