Tired of boring, bland pre-made tomato sauce flavored with corn syrup and loaded with preservatives? Fresh tomato sauce is easy and cheap to make. Large batches can be divided into tupperware or ziploc bags and frozen for later use. This sauce can be used as a base for meat sauce and other “red” sauces. It’s perfect for basic spaghetti, lasagna, meatball subs, chicken parmesan, etc.
The following recipe yields about 2 quarts of sauce.
- 29 oz. can tomato puree
- 6 oz. can tomato paste
- 1 small white or vidalia onion (or half a medium, about 1 1/2 cups diced)
- 2-4 Roma tomatoes (about 1 1/2 cups diced)
- 2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3 tbsp. olive oil (extra virgin preferred but not required)
- 1 tbsp. balsamic or red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 2 tsp. oregano
- 2 tsp. basil
- 1/2 tsp. thyme
- 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1/4 tsp. tarragon (optional)
There may seem like a lot of herbs and spices in this recipe, but the key to successful tomato saucing is aggressive seasoning. After all, you’re not only seasoning the sauce, but also the pasta or whatever else the sauce is going to be eaten with. The following step by step process helps to layer in the flavors and also blend the sauce into a nice smooth consistency.
- Heat the olive oil, vinegar, and all herbs and spices in a medium (3 quart works best) saucepan on medium low. This begins infusing the olive oil with the essential oils that will be drawn out of the dried herbs. Let this mixture heat up for a minute or two. Stir frequently throughout all the steps of this recipe to avoid burning.
- Finely chop (or mash, if you prefer) the garlic cloves and add to the oil. Let the garlic turn a golden color (but not brown or black).
- Dice the onion into 1/4 inch pieces. Add to the oil and sautee the onions and garlic util the onions start to become translucent.
- Dice the tomatoes, again 1/4 inch. Use a serrated knife. Add them to the mixture and let the onions and tomatoes continue to cook until the onions are entirely translucent and the tomatoes are a deep red and soft.
- Add the tomato paste. Using a whisk or spatula, stir the paste into the mixture. It should start to “melt”. Adding tomato paste at this stage will make it easier to get a nice smooth final product. At this step, constant stirring is a must since the tomato paste is especially prone to sticking to the pan and burning.
- Stir in the tomato puree. Turn the heat to low and continue to stir until well mixed, making sure the tomato paste is blended with the puree. Once satisfied with the consistency, cover the pan and simmer on low for at least ten minutes. The longer the sauce is allowed to simmer, the more the flavors will blend together. Just remember to stir frequently and keep the heat low.
Simply brown 1 lb. of ground beef, drain, and add in the sauce during step 6 for a great meat sauce.