Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tomato Sauce Goodies

The other day I was on Twitter and I caught @Cafe_Nirvana, @techtigger, @deannaschrayer, @AnneTylerLord and @RandomOenophile talking about tomatoes. Yup, we writer-ly girls talk about more than books and such; we like wine and food too, and a lot! heh

@techtigger shared a recipe that uses lime on the tomatoe sauce that got me intrigued. We both agreed it could be an interesting ingredient as long as used with care, otherwise its taste is overpowering. 

I threw the idea of my family's recipe for the famous tomato sauce and everyone got excited; even a tomato blog tour was mentioned, but we decided to drop the idea. :P The next day @deannaschrayer wrote a great post with pics of her tomatoes and beautiful garden that clicked it for me, tour or no tour. ;)

So, I proudly present the recipe for our tomato sauce base, to which I'm going to suggest some spices and stuff to increment and make whole different culinary experiences. 

Make no mistake though, my family's sauce is nothing like this picture. However, if you're one of those people who like tomato's taste but not its texture, so you won't have any other kind of sauce, do stick around. At the end I'll tell you how to transform my sauce in your sauce, keeping my family's culinary secrets intact. ;)

Base for Tomato Sauce
3 to 4 portions


1Kg of fresh tomatoes
1 large onion
4 cloves of garlic (yup, our family is crazy about garlic ;)
2 spoons of oil (olive, canola, sunflower, you name it)


1. Do not peel the tomatoes. Wash them very well taking all precautions against parasites and the toxic stuff they put on crops. (unless you're smart enough to use organic vegetables, in which case wash them normally, no concerns here ;) Take their top off, cut them in large pieces (four to six is good enough) and put them aside. 

2. Chop the onion and garlic as small as you can, or if you prefer use a food processor. 

3. Warm up the oil, fry the onion and garlic until they become golden, mixing all the time to prevent them burning and sticking to the bottom of the pan. 

4. Add the tomato pieces and mix. You'll see that the tomatoes' water will come out because of the heat, so you won't need to add water. 

You can add the salt in this moment or later, but if you add now, at the beginning of the cooking process, cut the quantity by at least half or the sauce will get too salty.

Let the tomato cook in low fire with closed pan. Mix it from time to time until the sauce becomes more or less homogeneous. Open the pan to evaporate when it happens. You'll know when you've reached the right cooking point when you can't see water between tomato pieces.

This is more or less what you'll get:

What's under the tomato sauce is my family's polenta.
Stay tunned for that recipe. ;)
Now, if you prefer the homogeneous sauce I've mentioned, you can put it on the blender or equivalent kitchen appliance, and let it cook for a long time. While our"rough" version will take around 45 min, a "clean" one will take several hours. You'll also need to add water once in a while, otherwise you'll end up with a dirty pan and almost no sauce at all. 

As for incrementing the basic sauce, here are some suggestions:

  • pepper: you can use any kind you want, but keep in mind that some kinds of pepper  won't go well with other complements. Also, the moment you'll add it is as important as for the salt. 
  • green stuff: basil, rosemary, salvia (garden sage) etc. All green spice should be added when the base sauce is almost ready. Let it cook with open pan for a while so it absorbs the spice's taste. If you close the pan everything green will turn into brown, but don't worry; it'll continue tasting wonderfully well. ;)

An observation is in order: we like to experiment with spices, so if you're brave enough you can try adding all three suggestions, or a combination of two. The sauce of the picture above had basil, rosemary and salvia, and it was delicious! However, please keep in mind that depending on the region you are, salvia can be very strong tasting. In this case you should add much less of it and I'd not recommend such mixtures. 

  • broccoli and black olives: Wash and cut a small Japanese broccoli into small or medium pieces (I like medium better); peal the black olives if they come with the pit. Add the broccoli when the tomatoes are starting to "melt down" if you chose medium pieces, or later in the process if you chose small ones. Add the olives along with the green spice of your choosing. The rest of the process is normal. 

This is a fantastic variation that we use a lot! I don't have a picture today, but if you'd like to try it on, please post a picture on your blog and let me know how it went. :)

Some additional suggestions:

If you like, you can use canned peeled tomatoes with the same result. To be honest, the sauce above was made with peeled tomatoes, but I like better when it's made with fresh tomatoes. Peeled tomatoes also make it easier to reach the homogeneous sauce so many people like. 

We usually make lots of base sauce and freeze it, so when we need it all we have to do is add spice and we're done. Actually, the base sauce is quite good on its own. ;)

Finally, if you don't like onion and garlic for any reason you can try to replace it with asafoetida with almost the same effect. If you take them off completely you'll change the recipe in an irremediable way. 

So, making tomato sauce is much easier than one might think, eh? They won't even bite you, heh. 

What do you think? Will you try it? Please tell me in the comments. :) 


  1. Ooh, I absolutely love tomato sauce and so happy to learn how to make it fresh. Really beautiful tomatoes are in season now so I think I will make a large batch and freeze for the winter season when tomatoes are blegh!

    I like tomato sauce that is chunky so won't need to blend it to death. :)

    And I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE polenta so will wait eagerly for the recipe.

    Thank you Mari-girl!

  2. I absolutely will try it! I've never made sauce from fresh tomatoes, but this sounds great. Thanks :)

  3. My goodness, this looks delicious. All my favorite ingredients! I'll make this soon and let you know how it turns out. Thanks, Mari!

  4. --Marisa, Jemi and Jodi: Awesome that you liked the recipe. Please let me know if you've tried one of the variations and which spices you've used. I'm most curious!

    Mari-girl, you're a wise, wise woman, heh. ;)

  5. I'm definitely waiting for the polenta recipe. :)

    Your sauce sounds a lot like mine. I left Hubby unsupervised to make it last Saturday and he! It's actually pretty good. My typical spices are basil, oregano, and parsley.

    Thanks for sharing your family recipe! I'd share mine, but I'd have to kill you.

    Whose last name isn't really Dominic but something way more Italian ending in -lucci

  6. --Cecilia: Ahh, now I understand why your sauce is so similar to mine, heh.

    Vodka? I've used brandy and whiskey on food before but this is new to me. I'll have to give it a try. ;)

  7. This looks so good, my mouth is watering right now. Unfortunately though I won't be making it, simply because in the last year, I'm on a very strict diet for medical reasons and I can't eat a lot of the ingredients. What a pity though!

  8. Yummm looks great on that pasta! :) Good job Mari and thank you for the recipe, I’m definitely going to try it!

  9. --Olive: I'm so sorry to hear that! I hope your health issues will be solved so you can give it a try. The recipe will be available to you here when it happens. :)

    --Lua: It was great eating it too, heh, I hope you'll like it as much as I did. Please tell me what you think when you try it.

  10. So sorry I'm late Mari! I've been cleaning up after our house was flooded the night before last - worst we've ever seen here. I was supposed to go back to work yesterday but had to take the day off to shampoo rugs, do laundry, and all that junk that comes with mud pouring into your house - YUCK!

    Thanks so much for this recipe - my mouth is watering! I can't wait to try it. I'll most likely use rosemary and oregano in mine, and maybe make a second batch with that vodka- YUM!

    And thanks for mentioning my post!

  11. --Deanna: So sorry about the flood! I guess you have yet more writing material now, eh? lol I'm glad all is ok. :)

    Great that you liked the recipe! Please let me know if it works for you. I just mentioned the vodka here at home, and my fingers are crossed for this experiment to happen, heh.

  12. Just saw this post now. My mouth is watering! I, too, really shouldn't eat tomatoes (or peppers or potatoes), but I do love delicious tomato sauce! And eat it regularly. So maybe I'll give this a try too. Sounds absolutely delicious!

  13. --Phyl: Please let me know how it works for you, but take it easy dear. Don't eat too much of it, ok? Your health must come first. ;p

  14. Wonderful! I love this recipe and the additional ideas. Tomato sauce made with various ingredients is one of our favorites to add on to other things. We haven't tried putting it on polenta, what a great idea. Looking forward to that as well.

  15. --Anne: Glad you liked the recipe and ideas! I'll post the recipe to polenta as soon as possible. First, I'm a bit busy having some awesome guests here at Randomities. ;)

    Plese let me know if you end up giving the tomato sauce a try. :)

  16. nice idea.. thanks for sharing..

    1. Hi anon! Thanks for your comment. I hope you'll enjoy the goodies. ;)


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