Tomato Sauce

A little over a year ago, J and I made our first batch of homemade tomato sauce for pasta. I think we were inspired by hard-core weekend of Food Network watching, but it was something we had talked about doing for a while.  Once we took the first bite of our sauce, we were hooked.  We could not believe how much better and fresher it tasted than jarred sauce.  Every time we have our sauce, I always marvel at how it tastes like I had wandered out that very day to our vegetable garden (which doesn’t exist yet) and picked the tomatoes, peppers, onions and herbs we use.  As with all my recipes, our tomato sauce recipe is fairly fluid: the basic components stay the same, but it is easy to modify to suit your individual taste or mood.

It takes around 3-4 hours to prep, cook and blend, but it makes a HUGE amount.  From our most recent batch made last weekend, we had fresh tomato sauce on our pasta that night and still had enough to freeze 8 bags.  Each bag easily feeds the 3 of us and probably could feed a family of 4. J is a huge help with this recipe as he chops all the vegetables and herbs.  He bought a really good set of kitchen knives and few years ago and loves to use them.   This recipe would take a lot longer if he didn’t help with the chopping.

Right now we use canned tomatoes, but we do plan to plant a vegetable garden.  Eventually.  I grew up in a rural area, and my family and my aunts’ families had a garden every summer.  Not being especially athletic or outdoorsy, I hated working in the garden.  It was hot.  There were bugs (like those nasty bugs that like corn) and let’s be honest, there is something primordially scary about rows of tall corn stalks.  My mother would can or freeze the vegetables, and we’d eat on them all winter (geez, sounds like something out of Little House on the Prairie!).  I never thought I would want to have a garden, but the older I become and the scarier the world gets, the more I want one.  Baby steps.  Right now we are growing basil and mint, and we used the basil in the recipe.

Ingredients

  • 4 cans crushed tomatoes
  • 5 cans stewed tomatoes
  • 4 cans tomato paste
  • 7 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1  1/4 cups of red wine (we use pinot noir, but a rich cabernet could work too.  Any robust red wine will do)
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 red pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 TB fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 2 TB fresh oregano, finely chopped

Directions

  • Saute the onion, pepper and garlic in oil over medium heat until the onion is translucent and the pepper is soft (about 15 minutes)

    Onions, pepper and garlic sauteeing

  • Add the tomatoes, sugar, red wine, herbs and salt (I use sea salt) and pepper

    A lot of tomatoes

Fresh oregano and basil

 

Everything! Needs a stir and to simmer for a couple of hours

  • Stir well and bring to simmer
  • Cover and reduce heat to medium-low
  • Simmer for at least an hour, stirring every 15 minutes (I like to simmer the sauce for around 2 – 3 hours because the sauce starts to thicken and it adds an extra flavor dimension and texture I can describe only as “plummy.” It’s crucial that you continue to stir so the bottom doesn’t start to burn.  Burnt sauce really sucks.)
  • Once sauce is cool enough, blend in batches (we use our ancient blender, but you could use an immersion blender)
  • Bag up the sauce and pop into the freezer (We use freezer bags which probably isn’t the best thing to use, so if you have better freezer storage options, please let me know!)

    Blended and ready to bag

Enjoy!  This Winter we hope to explore making pasta from scratch to go with our sauce. 

Do you have a favorite tomato sauce recipe?

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