It has taken me years to get over my condiment-phobia. Growing up I always ate everything plain. We were a condiment free household. There were no bottles of ketchup or jars of mustard, mayo or any other spread, and that was my normal. Ordering at restaurants could be a bit complicated and always involved the risk of a bun coming out slathered in something I had politely requested to be left off. Knowing that I was in the minority of the population perfectly happy consuming what most would consider an uninspired burger, sandwich or hot dog never mattered to me. I didn’t know what I was missing.
I can’t put my finger on a specific incident when I decided to let condiments into my life, but I credit dining out with opening my eyes to the deliciousness of from-scratch versions. You won’t find me reaching for Heinz to top my fries, but a chef-concocted dipping sauce is a must try. That got me started making mustard and now ketchup. I used the last of our Roma and cherry tomatoes for a batch of fresh tomato ketchup. The kick of ginger and cayenne pepper balanced the sweetness of brown sugar and the tang of red wine vinegar all while letting our homegrown tomatoes shine.
Makes about 1 cup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, roughly chopped
1 stalk celery, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cayenne pepper, deseeded and minced
1-1/2 pounds tomatoes, chopped (I used Roma and cherry tomatoes.)
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon light brown sugar, packed
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over low heat and sauté the onion, celery, ginger, garlic and cayenne pepper for 10-15 minutes until the vegetables have softened. Add the tomatoes, onion powder, allspice, salt, pepper and 3/4 cup cold water. Bring the mixture to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer until it has reduced by half.
Carefully transfer the mixture to a blender to puree. Pass it through a fine mesh strainer before returning to a clean saucepan. Add the vinegar and sugar and simmer until the mixture thickens into a ketchup-like consistency.
Store refrigerated in an airtight container up to 1 month.