Food Gold: Homemade Tomato Sauce

Posted on Feb 24th, 2011 in Columns > Food Gold by Elliot Aronow

This week, we are taking you back to culinary boot camp with a delicious, versatile red tomato sauce. The technique is super basic so it is ALL about the quality of your ingredients and your desire to experiment with different combinations of fresh and dried herbs, various cheeses and anything else you happen to have around. After nailing this (trust, you will probably swag out on the first try) you will never eat Prego again.Let’s go!

Basic Tomato Sauce 101

- 28-ounce can of tomatoes (peeled, ideally). Try to get San Marzano if you can. Don’t use crap like Hunt’s unless you have no other choice. The tomatoes should be drained but still have some juice on them.

- 1  tablespoon olive oil + some butter or 2 tablespoons olive oil.

- 3 cloves smashed garlic. You want the cloves in big pieces so you can fish them out of the sauce later, if you want. Or you can just leave them in.

- 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced

- Dried or fresh oregano, thyme or rosemary. Use 1/2 tablespoon if fresh, about 1/2 teaspoon if dried.

- Crushed red pepper flakes to taste.

- Salt/Pepper to taste.

1. In decent sized skillet heat olive oil over medium heat. If you want to add some butter as well you can do that. Once oil has heated up for about 1 minute and butter has melted add your garlic and onions and a healthy pinch of salt. Cook until onions are translucent and soft and the garlic is slightly browned. Approx 4 minutes.

Bonus beat: If you like you can add a splash of wine or red wine here. Just be sure to wait 30 seconds or so for it cook out before you add your tomatoes.

2. Using your clean hands, grab the whole tomatoes out of the can and squeeze and squish them over the skillet. Be sure to not wear good clothes since these dudes can be messy. In the biz we say “we got a squirter” when making the sauce. JK, we don’t do that. In fact, don’t ever say that.

3. Now, over medium heat cook the tomatoes until they fall apart and become, you know, sauce-like, about 12 minutes. Unlike most foods that taste better the longer they simmer, tomatoes taste best when cooked quickly, otherwise they turn bitter and get nasty. You need to watch how much it cooks down, as I do not recommend reviving a sauce that has become too thick by adding water.

Bonus beat, part II: You can add some grated mozzarella here if you want more of a crowd pleasing sauce. Or some cooked veggies or anything else that you think would taste good in the sauce.

4. Once your sauce has reached its desired consistency you are done. Kill the heat. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper and add another splash or two of nice olive oil to give it some more body.

5. If serving immediately toss your “sub al dente” pasta with sauce and go in. If saving, you can keep it in the fridge for a few days and the freezer for a few months.

That’s it! Hope you give this a try.

Fork The World,

Elliot

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