This is a simple but essential recipe that any tomato sauce lover should know. Once you've made this you may never buy ready made sauce again. This sauce will inform you how a really fresh tomato sauce should taste. It's easy, but the prep takes some time and care.
If you're in a hurry and want a reference to find a super simple recipe from canned tomatoes for a superlative sauce from the maestro of Italian cooking, Marcella Hazan, you can use this link .
This recipe was taught to me by a student of Marcella, I like to use onion, garlic and olive oil rather than butter.
Ingredients are as follows: Fresh, ripe Roma tomatoes- This is critical, so the time to make this recipe is really August, September and possibly October on the West coast. The recipe is based on 5 lbs. of tomatoes, but I would urge you to make 10 lbs or even 15, if you have a large enough pot.
5 lbs will yield about 1.5 - 2 quarts of sauce.
One ( 1) medium yellow onion diced
Four ( 4) cloves garlic crushed- cooking takes much of the strength away.
One (1) table spoon of tomato paste
Fresh Basil One (1) cup or more if you like
Olive oil -
Step 1: Wash. Blanch, Separate the Seeds and Remove the Pulp From the Skins
Extracting the meat of the Roma tomato is the magic of this recipe. Rinse the tomatoes in batches, and bring a large pot of water to a boil. In medium sized batches, blanch the tomatoes in the boiling water, the boil will stop when the tomatoes are added. Allow them to be in the water no more than 90 seconds, then remove while you blanch the rest of the tomatoes. As the tomatoes are done blanching cool them in a pot of ice water. I also use very cold water and that works also. After all the tomatoes are blanched and cooled cut them cross wise as shown.
There are two methods to removing the pulp both involved squeezing each half to remove water and especially to remove the seeds, squeeze each half firmly and shake out the seeds and water. You will feel the skin loosening as well. You now have the choice to squeeze the skin off and keep the pulp in a bowl to be pureed in a food processor OR after the seeds are removed you can run each half across a grater as shown in the video until the pulp is ground in a bowl. It takes a bit of practice , but using the skin to protect the palm of your hand works well. Wearing a rubber glove will help too.
WATCH THE VIDEO OF THIS PROCESS NOW.
Continue to squeeze out the water and seeds then either grate or put the pulp, with the skin removed, into a bowl.
After the pulp is removed you can puree it in small batches and put back into a bowl.
Or if you grated it you are ready start the sauce or to prep the onion and garlic ( optional).
Step 2: Dice the Onion and Garlic
SKIP THIS STEP IF YOU A PURIST AND ONLY WANT TOMATO PUREE SAUCE-
I think that dicing the onions and garlic makes for a really flavorful sauce.
I use a Cuisineart food processor to quickly dice these.This is the tear free way.
Other wise CHOP them into a dice. A good trick is to chop the onions outside, this will relieve a lot of the
eye tearing you get when done indoors.
The easiest way is to put the garlic ( 4 cloves per 5 lbs) in first and spin for 20 seconds then remove.
Add a quartered onion ( one medium per 5 lbs) and run the processor for 15- 30 seconds.
Then you are ready to start. Pour of the excess liquid.
Step 3: Saute the Sauce
Start with the onion, under medium heat put 2 tbsp of olive oil and one of butter in a large sauce pan. Saute onions until translucent ( 2-3 mins) then add the garlic, heat until fragrant. Add the tomato puree and stir all together.
After the sauce begins to bubble you can add one tbsp. of tomato paste per 5 lbs. if you like. This will help thicken the sauce and give it some richness, mix this in well. Turn the heat down to a simmer and let cook with a lid partially on for at least 1.5- 2 hours until the water has cooked down and sauce has thickened. Stir about every 15 minutes or so. Once thickened give it a taste, if it tastes acidic you can add a tsp of white sugar, to balance.
Once the sauce has reached the desired thickness, add fine sea salt and black pepper to taste.
The last step is to use 1 cup per 5 lbs. sauce of fresh cleaned and trimmed basil leaves.Turn off the heat and TEAR the leaves into the sauce, stirring in as you go.The flavor will transfer into the sauce without being cooked out. Serve over fresh pasta or let cool and cool overnite. When serving, add shaved parmesan/reggiano or pecorino for some snap.
You can freeze the sauce using resealable, rigid glass or plastic containers or bags designed for freezing. I love defrosting a quart of this sauce in January as a reminder how good fresh tomato sauce is and to look forward to the spring planting season ahead.