How To: Tomato Sauce

I’m sure we’ve all heard that the BPA in the plastic liner of cans is bad for you – and apparently canned tomatoes are the one of the worst because of the acidity of the tomatoes. Once every few months, I try to be good and make a large batch of tomato sauce from scratch to portion and freeze. Spaghetti sounded good tonight, so that’s what I spent part of my afternoon doing.

Here are my two go-to tomato sauce recipes. The first one is inspired from Donna Hay’s Classic Tomato Sauce recipe (found in New Food Fast), but I’ve altered many parts of it and so I’m officially  (and very loosely) declaring it mine. It’s a nice fruity sauce that is pretty much all purpose. It may be a little light for something like lasagna, but anything else will go with it. This is the one I made today.

The second one is my dad’s go-to sauce, and is from The Classic Italian Cookbook. It’s a little bit of a sweet sauce, thanks to the butter, and is especially good with things like ravioli or tortellini, although you can use it with anything. I love this sauce not just for the flavor, but because it takes only a few ingredients and minimal effort.

1) Tomato Herb Sauce with Wine

12 large tomatoes or (4 1-lb cans peeled tomatoes lightly crushed, if you prefer canned)
3 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 – 1 cup red wine (white will do if you don’t have red)
A large handful of chopped oregano, basil, marjoram, or thyme (or any combination of them, whatever you have)
A few sprinkles of dried, crushed red pepper flake (optional)
Sea salt and fresh pepper

You have two options here: you can opt to peel the tomatoes, or you can put them in the blender. The peeling approach leaves you with the option to make chunkier sauce, if desired. Some people really don’t like seeds in their sauce, so strain the tomatoes if that is how you like it.

To peel: Place whole tomatoes in a saucepan of boiling water and cook for one minute. Drain and peel skins off and chop them up, reserving all liquids. It gets very wet so it’s best to chop them in a container like a casserole dish.

To blend: Halve your tomatoes and place in a large pot over medium heat. Turn over the tomatoes every once in a while until they are hot and start to fall apart. Place in a blender and puree (in batches if needed).

Heat oil in the pot and sauté onions and garlic over med-high heat until soft.

Add tomato, wine, herbs, red pepper flake, salt and pepper and bring to boil. Bring down to simmer for 30 minutes if using fresh tomatoes (20 minutes for canned). You want to reduce it to the consistency you like. Can be frozen for 4-5 months, or refrigerated for three days.

To make this base a delicious soup, add 2 cups of vegetable broth when adding tomatoes back to the pot. When done simmering, stir through an additional 1/3 cup chopped basil. Top with pepper and Parmesan. Can likewise be frozen.

2) Tomato Butter Sauce

6 servings

2 lbs fresh tomatoes
1/4 lb butter
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and halved or quartered
1/4 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt

Cut tomatoes in half and place in a pot or large pan. Simmer for 10 minutes. Take tomatoes out, purée, and put back in the pot and add the rest of the ingredients. Cook at a slow simmer for 45 minutes uncovered. Season additionally if needed. You can remove the onion if you prefer, but it gets nice and soft in stewing and tastes good. I highly recommend not throwing it out.

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