I say it so often here that I should not have been surprised by this. The best food of all is that which hasn't been messed with too much, but which is a simple combining of good quality, great tasting ingredients. Yet, I was still shocked at how blindlingly good this simple tomato pasta sauce tasted.
In my effort to keep up with my massive tomato crop I've been telling you about, making some tomato ketchup seemed like an option. "But why?" inquired the other mouth that I feed. He is of the opinion that nobody could do a better job of it than Watties, and a sauce that actually tastes of ... well, tomatoes ... instead of preservatives and other things you can't pronounce, would just be too much of a shock to his tastebuds. In fairness, he's come a long way and appreciates great food when it's given to him. But there are some things he will always consider to be vaguely inferior when made at home - namely, tomato sauce, ice cream, and bread. Still, I'm convinced that if I can come up with a good tomato sauce, and sneak it into the Watties bottle when he's not looking, then I have a pretty fair chance of passing it off as the "real deal". Keep watching this space!
In the meantime, I decided a batch of tomato pasta sauce would take care of a few tomatoes, and would never go astray around our house. Of course, when looking for a good sauce recipe, the first place I turned to was the Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan. Marcella is the high priestess of Italian cooking, as far as I'm concerned, and this book is like my bible when it comes to Italian food. Trust me when I tell you that, if you have no other Italian cookbook in your collection it should be this one.
When I found Marcella's recipe for Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter, my initial reaction was that I could "trick it up a little" by adding in some garlic, maybe some roasted red peppers, maybe some chilli flakes for a bit of kick, a bit of freshly ground black pepper even. And then I decided to just allow Marcella's wisdom to prevail and stick with the recipe (a rare thing for me), and am I ever glad that I did just that.
This sauce consists of nothing more than tomatoes, an onion, a little butter, and a sprinkling of salt - that's it, nothing more. The onion is simply cut in half and then discarded at the end of the cooking time, rather than diced into the sauce, so it serves to ever so delicately "fragrance" the sauce rather than overpowering it. The flavour is wonderfully sweet and so intensely "tomatoe-y" that it's almost shocking. This sauce is as intensely flavoured as any I've ever tasted, and yet it maintains a freshness and purity of flavour that is a sheer delight. Think of the flavour of a freshly picked tomato, still warm from the sun, sliced thickly and set on top of freshly buttered toast, and you have pretty much exactly that in sauce form.
We enjoyed this tossed through some pappardelle with a sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan. Marcella also recommends it as being a great accompaniment to gnocchi. I hope you'll give it a try. For best results use sun-grown fresh tomatoes, picked at the perfect stage of ripeness - out of season, hot-house grown tomatoes, picked early and ripened in the supermarket chiller, just won't cut it. Marcella says you can also used tinned tomatoes.
Best Tomato Pasta Sauce Ever Recipe
Adapted from recipe by Marcella Hazan
Makes enough for four servings of pasta
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe
1 kg (2x pounds) tomatoes
100g (3.5 oz) butter
flaky sea salt
Peel tomatoes and discard the skins.
Remove and discard any woody cores from the tomatoes and roughly chop the flesh. Cut the onion in half. Put tomatoes, onion, butter, and a generous pinch of sea salt into a large saucepan.
Simmer uncovered very gently, stirring from time to time, and mashing the tomatoes with a wooden spoon, until the tomatoes have completely broken down and the sauce is reduced and thick - about 45 minutes.
Discard the onion, and immediately toss through pasta, or cool completely and freeze for later use.
I'm sharing this post at See Ya In the Gumbo, hosted by the lovely Michelle at Ms. enPlace; at Foodie Friday, hosted by Designs by Gollum; and at My Meatless Mondays hosted by Chaya at My Sweet and Savory.
Ooh that sounds interesting with the butter and onion. I use a basic Jamie Oliver tomato sauce all the time as it's so tasty and versatile but I like the sound of this.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Lesley - the butter does wonderful things to this sauce :-)Delete
I love home made tomato sauce for pasta but when it comes to ketchup I am totally on board with your other half - it has to be Heinz!ReplyDelete
I think a lot of people are like that about ketchup, aren't they :-)Delete
This looks wonderful! A great idea to make more and freeze for a delicious weeknight dinner!ReplyDelete
Have heard of Marcella but have not tried any of her recipes before! Thanks for sharing!
Thanks, Joyce. I'm totally loving this time of year stocking my freezer with all the goodies for winter dinners. Trouble is I'm rapidly running out of freezer space. I highly commend any of Marcella's books to you Joyce - I know you wouldn't be disappointed.Delete
I'm already antsy for tomato season to get here and now this beautiful sauce is calling to me! Sometimes simple is best--and I usually forget that.ReplyDelete
Thank you for linking this week, Sue. When my tomatoes are perfect in May I will make this...and horde containers of it in my freezer!
Michelle, I'm feeling a little envious that all the goodness of spring and summer are right around the corner for you - all too soon we will be faced with nothing but root vegetables at the market, but I will definitely be glad then for all the summer goodness stashed in my freezer.Delete
Sue, that looks so good, I can almost taste the butter! I hope we have enough ripe tomatoes to try it but so far most of ours are still green.ReplyDelete
Clare, it's definitely the butter that makes it. I'm sure you will manage to come up with plenty of uses for green tomatoes.Delete
I agree with you, simple and a few fresh ingredients are the best and often, amazingly delicious when prepared with love. :) Your tomato sauce looks flavorful and delicious. How nice you've got a massive crop. I wish I have more space to plant more veggies at my yard.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Amy. I've been very lucky with our tomato crop this year, though sadly they are getting close to finishing now. Still plenty of green ones left though to do interesting things with.Delete
I have a bucket of tomatoes waiting for roasting as the first step towards tomato sauce. I admire your patience to skin all those tomatoes. I'm so lazy. I roast, I grind through the moulis. I freeze. I defrost and add a little butter and spice up as the mood takes. It feels so good huh to make your own :o)ReplyDelete