Monday, June 20, 2011

Tomato Sauce

Who doesn't love long weekends? Especially at the end of one of those weeks where you seem to be shot at from all sides as you pull your helmet of fortitude firmly down your head, dodging bullets and avoiding potholes, hoping that you reach your bunker in one piece. Yes, especially then. But even when everything is fine and dandy, a long weekend is still something welcomed with your biggest grin and hugged tightly to your chest as you enjoy every single moment.

Many times we like to plan a trip out of town when such a blessing comes our way. Nothing fancy necessarily. Perhaps a nearby beach or a place higher up with a great view and a slightly cooler climate. This time though, maybe because I just came back from a trip out of the country, maybe because the weather was rainy and gloomy and just so conducive to staying put, we decided to forgo any trips and just…burrow.

Of course, we didn’t just burrow for three days (although I’m sure I could be found capable of doing just that). With a nice long patch of time before me, a taxing week behind me, and rain pitter-pattering on the windows, I did what seemed but natural to me. Therapy. Tomato sauce therapy to be exact.

Tomato Sauce
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 big white onion or 2 small ones, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 800-gram can chopped tomatoes
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • Optional: fresh basil and oregano
- Heat a couple of generous glugs of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot or pan.
- When the oil is hot add the onions, garlic, and bay leaf and sauté until the onions are soft and translucent.
- Add the tomatoes and stir. Let this simmer, uncovered, until some of the water has evaporated and it is thick and pulpy, about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. It may take longer…be patient and you will be rewarded.
- At this point taste and season with salt and pepper, and sugar if using. Add a couple of swirls of extra virgin olive oil and stir. Let this simmer for a further 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
- If you are using fresh herbs add them now, toss in the sauce, then take off the heat.
- You can use this immediately, store it in the fridge for 4-5 days, or in the freezer for 3-6 months.

You can use this sauce as is; tossed with some pasta and a dusting of freshly grated parmesan, and you will have a completely satisfying bowl of pasta in red sauce. It can also be used as a base for many other pasta sauces. Add sautéed shrimp, bacon and chilies, minced beef, anchovies & olives, clams, eggplant & white cheese…the possibilities are limitless. And by no means is this just for pasta. You can use this as a pizza sauce, a base for cooking fish or chicken, for baked veggies topped with a crumb and cheese crust, even as a bed for an egg cooked “en cocotte”. You can experiment with different spices as well…I love this with a good amount of (my favorite) pimenton de La Vera (which I’ve just restocked…yay!), which makes the sauce nice and smoky. The long and short of it is that this is a great to have stashed in your fridge.

I used herbs here as I had some fresh oregano from my organic farmer and I happened upon some sprightly basil in the market. You can leave them out for a plainer sauce and that’s why I’ve listed them as optional. Some people like to add a bit of sugar to a tomato sauce and I add about half a teaspoon here (it doesn’t so much make it sweet as rounds out the acid of the tomato), but you certainly don’t need to if this is against your tomato sauce principles. You also don’t need to use as much garlic as I’ve specified – I like my sauce quite garlicky but you can use less if that would be more to your taste. I don’t use fresh tomatoes because the tomatoes available locally aren’t always the best for a nice rich sauce. If you haven’t got the perfect tomatoes you are better off using quality canned ones rather than the wrong fresh ones. So buy the best you can manage – I’ll usually gravitate towards an Italian or a Spanish brand.

A gently gurgling pan of red pulpy tomato goodness on the hob, stirring and nudging occasionally with a wooden spoon, and finally scooping it all contentedly into a jar – it’s not much, perhaps not a day in the spa, or a trip to get away from it all, but ah, what it does for the soul!


annabanana said...

Super awesome! I am loving this tomato sauce!

Maria said...

Hi, I'm a new reader and just love your blog and writing style! And the pictures of food are beautiful.

chef_d said...

Yum, I love the color it looks so rich and delicious!

Meeta K. Wolff said...

Having a recipe of a good tomato sauce is so vital! It's the basis of so many wonderful creations. This one I am truly loving!

Mary Jean said...

totally adding you to my bloglist - good inspiration for cooking.

Midge said...

Gorgeous, gorgeous tomato sauce, Joey! It looks scrumptiously ALIVE for some odd reason; I guess it's the vibrant color and I can imagine the freshness of the flavor.

Incidentally, your post just went in sync in my head with a James McAvoy interview where that adorable actor gave a recipe for prawns with linguini. He actually said the dish would taste lots better with homemade tomato sauce! ;D

ChichaJo said...

Thanks Annabanana! It’s very simple to make!

Hi Maria! Thank you for your nice words :) Glad to have you here!

Hi Chef D! It is rich…I like a thick and hearty sauce so I really cook it down :)

Hi Meeta! It really is! Love having this around…and it’s a perfect way to introduce the little one to pasta :)

Hi Mary Jean! Happy to hear that! :)

Hi Midge! Oh my! He is even more adorable now!!

Anh said...

oh I love that color of the tomato sauce!

Arlu said...

OMG, you got me at "A gently gurgling pan of red pulpy tomato goodness." I LOVE the way you describe things! And that sauce sounds delicious! :)

Pille said...

I love that colour of the tomato sauce - it screams SUMMER at me :) (Isn't it fascinating then that the summer is leaving you - just as it's beginning here :O)

Chinkee said...

Being a pasta addict, this post literally called out to me:-). It's been a while since I made some tomato sauce, and I think this weather calls for some hearty bowls of pasta. Thanks for the inspiration! Btw, there's no shame in adding a bit of sugar to tomato sauce while cooking... You're right, it really does take some of the "edge" off it:-).

Stacy said...

This recipe looks great & easy! I'm going to have to give this a try! Awesome blog! I posted a link to your blog on mine, Five a Day the Fun Way -

ChichaJo said...

Hi Anh! Me too…we were quite pleased with it :)

Hi Arlu! Thank you so much! Glad you enjoy my rambling :)

Hi Pille! We just pass it (the summer) to each other :) Enjoy your summer!

Hi Chinkee! Love this because it is so basic and at the same time you can add to it in so many ways. But just plain with pasta, in a bowl, snuggled on the sofa, is perfect enough :)

Hi Stacy! Hope you enjoy the recipe :)

Paz said...

Your sauce looks terrific. I'm saving this recipe. ;-)

veron said...

love lots of garlic in my tomato sauce too!

Ash said...

This is perfect!! Who doesn't love long weekends especially when cooking something amazing is included!

miri leigh said...

This is perfect for when I don't have a lot of time...beautiful and inviting color!

Mama Mia said...

Wow! The color and texture looks good - Im sure it tastes great! Will try this out next time :)

Dexie said...

This is great. I've always wanted to make my own tomato sauce but there's always something going on that I forget. Love your jar :)

Maria said...

Perfect when tomatoes are at their best. This sounds so tasty!

ChichaJo said...

Thanks Paz! I hope you like it!

Hi Veron! That’s why we’ll always be safe from vampires! ;)

Hi Ash! I know…they don’t happen often enough for me!

Hi Miri! I make a small batch so it’s actually quicker than it seems :)

Hi Mama Mia! I really cook it down until it is thick and pulpy…patience is a virtue!

Hi Dexie! It’s really easy! Love this jar too…must buy more :)

Hi Maria! Unfortunately our local tomatoes are not the best for making sauce so I have to rely on canned tomatoes from Spain or Italy…although I will be experimenting :)

cailen ascher said...

mmm...sounds fabulous! i just LOVE homemade tomato sauce. thanks for the recipe!


Why Just Eat said...

That tomato sauce looks beautiful! I think it will be on my menu very soon :)

ChichaJo said...

Hi Cailen! You’re welcome…I love it too!

Hi Why Just Eat! Thank you :) Hope you enjoy it!

theoncominghope said...

That looks lovely. Ahhh ambition. Instead I give you this:

Not your grandma's recipe! Perfect tomato sauce with minimal effort and maximum fun: