Basic Tomato Sauce (Salsa di Pomodore)

February 16, 2009

A world devoid of tomato soup, tomato sauce, tomato ketchup and tomato paste is hard to visualize.
~Elizabeth David, An Omelette and a Glass of Wine

On President’s Day—watching pre-dawn documentaries detailing their lives—I was again struck that we have yet to elect a head of state with Italian heritage. Curious. It seemed a proper day to post a tomato sauce recipe.

This sauce is fundamental, versatile and ever so simple to create. It is great to have on hand for kith and kin at a moment’s notice any time of the day. Although the fresh tomatoes in my clime are fabulous, the season is unfortunately narrow (usually mid July through early October, with the most flavorful in September). Fresh tomatoes out of season just do not make the grade…they can even be on the verge of inedible. So, I usually turn to the canned whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes that perpetually inhabit the pantry. Luckily, some of the tomato vendors at the local farmers’ market also can their own, and they are exquisitely flavorful.

If the season is on, you may substitute 2-3 lbs of fresh tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped. But, then again, why would you not slice a gorgeous heirloom tomato with fresh mozzarella and basil…or even just a little sea salt…and savor?

3 T extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, peeled and finely diced
4 plump garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
Two 28 oz cans of San Marzano tomatoes, finely chopped (retain juice)
1/2 medium carrot, peeled and finely shredded
1 small rind of parmigiano reggiano
A quick splash of red wine
Sea salt
Bouquet garni* of fresh parsley, thyme and basil sprigs

Using kitchen scissors, chop tomatoes while still in can.

Heat olive oil in heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion, stirring some, until softened and slightly goldern, about 5-8 minutes. Add garlic, saute and stir occasionally another 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Stir in the tomatoes with juice, carrot, salt, rind, red wine splash and bouquet garni. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. The sauce will thicken to a porridge consistency. Remove and discard the rind and herb bundle. Adjust seasoning to your liking with salt remembering that tomatoes demand liberal amounts of salt.

A silkier version can be made by finishing the sauce in a food mill or blender.

The sauce will keep refrigerated for one week or frozen for 3 months.

*Bouquet garni: herb sprigs bundled together with kitchen twine.

Pourboire: when serving with a pasta or fish, it can be gently toned down with a little cream to make a “pink” sauce. The sauce can also be jazzed up with drained capers, chopped olives, diced peppers, red pepper flakes…you name it.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: