Thursday, August 8

Fresh Tomato Sauce

When summer tomatoes are at their peak, there's no better way to use them than in homemade sauce

I was one of those unusual children that never liked ketchup. Or any tomato-based condiment, including tomato sauce. My dad used to make big pots full of homemade tomato sauce that we’d keep in the freezer and I would never eat it, opting for buttered noodles instead. But my tastes have changed, and last weekend I found myself making my own red sauce. I’m so focused on heirlooms at this time of year that I forget how good (and inexpensive) the regular tomatoes are at the farmers market. For about $5, I was able to get everything I needed to make homemade tomato sauce and a bonus of fresh tomato juice (did somebody say Bloody Mary?). The tomatoes require some prep work, but if you have a leisurely afternoon in front of you it’s actually quite therapeutic. You’ll be left with a fresh, flavorful, perfect tomato sauce that’s great in pasta dishes, baked with chicken or fish, or just eaten alone with some crusty bread. It’ll keep in the freezer for a few months too.

Fresh Tomato Sauce:
  • Cut a small shallow "x" in the bottom of 4.5 lbs. of tomatoes* and place in boiling water for 30 seconds.
  • Remove tomatoes with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl of ice water. Rub off the skins.
  • Cut the tomatoes into quarters, place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl, and squeeze the tomato seeds into the strainer, letting the juices collect in the bowl. Remove any tough core.
  • Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a pot.
  • Add in 1 diced onion and cook for 5 minutes, or until softened but not brown.
  • Add in 3 minced garlic cloves and cook for another minute.
  • Add in the chopped tomatoes, a large pinch of salt, and a small pinch of sugar.
  • Cook over a medium-low flame for 35-40 minutes, or until sauce has thickened.**
  • Stir in 3 tbsp. fresh sliced basil.
  • Serve immediately, or let cool to room temperature and refrigerate or freeze.

Makes about four cups
*Any large variety works. I used beefsteak.
**I like a smoother texture so I used a potato masher to break the sauce up finer.