When tomatoes are plentiful, I make many batches of basic tomato sauce, freeze it, and then adjust the flavors and texture depending upon it’s intended use. Depending upon my harvest, I can be finishing the last of last year’s sauce just as this year’s tomatoes begin to ripen. And as you will see below, making your own sauce is really simple. The taste is very different than what you buy in jars at the supermarket – so much fresher, even after being in the freezer for months.
I adapted the Basic Tomato Sauce recipe from Martha Rose Shulman’s Mediterranean Harvest. When I unfreeze and use the sauce, typical adjustments I make for dishes include adding tomato paste, different spices and herbs (often crushed red pepper), and grated vegetables.
Basic Tomato Sauce
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 or 4 cloves of garlic, minced
3 pounds tomatoes, quartered (or rough chopped if a large tomato) (from the garden)
1/4 tsp sugar
several sprigs of fresh basil, thyme and/or oregano
1/4 tsp salt
Heat the oil in a sauce pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until golden, about 5-8 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, sugar, herbs and salt.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low
Simmer until the sauce thickens to a ‘cooked oatmeal’ consistency (thank you Mario Batali for that analogy). Time will vary depending upon the type of tomato you are using. Romas take closer to 30 minutes, while heirlooms wil more water content can take the full hour. Once it cooks down, taste and adjust the seasoning.
Use an immersion blender to create a smooth sauce.
Makes about 2 1/2 cups, enough for 8 servings.
The sauce freezes very well. So either use it right away or freeze it, defrost, and enjoy!