April 7, 2012

Simplest Tomato Sauce

Homemade tomato sauces always seem to have a long list of ingredients ranging from garlic to celery to basil to tomato paste, and the list goes on.  A good homemade tomato sauce brings more flavor than the jarred variety, but from my experiences making tomato sauce, the recipe and ingredients can “make” or “break” it.  I’ve been on the search for a tomato sauce that is not too acidic but is full of that great tomato flavor.

I found it! This is the simplest tomato sauce to make, and it has such a pure sweet (hey, this is Simply Sweet Justice!) tomato taste.  The sauce only needs three ingredients (the salt is optional).  You put the ingredients into your pot (I used a two-quart sauce pan), let it simmer, and occasionally stir.  The sauce is light, but lush and rich with flavor.  And, you really do not need to add any spices to the sauce.  I garnished with some fresh basil and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

I would recommend using good tomatoes, such as San Marzano, for this recipe.  San Marzano tomatoes are thinner in shape but have richer tomato flesh with fewer seed---and a stronger flavor.  Foodies, including me, are a bit fanatical about San Marzano tomatoes.  The story goes that they originally came from a town near Naples, Italy and were first grown in volcanic soil near Mount Vesuvius.

Not sure how true that story is, but this certainly tasted like something that could come from that hard-to-replicate Naples cuisine!

So, make this with your favorite type of pasta, pair with your favorite vino, and enjoy, because simple is good!

Simplest Tomato Sauce
(Serves 4; yields enough sauce to lightly coat nearly a pound of pasta)

1 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, with juices
5 tbsp. butter (salted is fine)
1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half
Salt, to taste (optional)

Put the tomatoes in a saucepan, add the butter, onion, and salt, and cook uncovered at a very slow, but steady simmer for 45 minutes, or until the fat floats free from the tomato.  Stir from time to time, mashing any large piece of tomato with the back of a wooden spoon.  Add salt to taste. Discard the onion before tossing the sauce with warm pasta.

Note: This may be frozen when done.  Discard the onion before freezing.

Source: Directly adapted from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking


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