My oldest loves reading anything you put in front of him, so around meal time he likes to read the label on the back of any can, jar, bag or box which I am using. (Now that might sound bad, but if you read this blog, you know I do make HOMEMADE food a lot!) 🙂 So, I was warming up jarred tomato sauce, (I add diced onions, garlic and fresh basil) when my son walked in and started reading the label. All the numbers were fine until he got to the sodium! I said WHAT??? I thought he had misread. It was 400 mg of sodium per 1/2 cup! That is A LOT! I checked online what the average person’s daily sodium intake should be … it’s 1500. (CDC sodium info) I knew there must be a healthier alternative …
That week the man who mows my lawn dropped off about 35 tomatoes. Don’t get me wrong … I love sliced tomatoes with salt, and I love sliced tomatoes with mozzarella and basil … but 35 plain tomatoes, what was I going to do with that many? Then it dawned on me … fresh tomato sauce. So I googled tomato sauce and found several recipes. They all came down to just a few ingredients – olive oil, onions, garlic, tomatoes, salt/ pepper and fresh basil.
Let’s get started!
Mise En Place
- Olive Oil
- 1 diced onion
- 1 diced garlic clove
- Tomatoes – peeled, seeded and chopped
Peel: Through my research, I learned that I needed to peel each tomato before I cook them. To do that easily, I am to slice an X on the bottom of each tomato with a knife. Please notice that extra tool under the knife is knife sharpener that was recommended to me by the knife guru at Sur La Table. It’s inexpensive and quickly sharpens.
Then I gently drop them into boiling water for about 2 minutes.
With a slotted spoon or spider I remove them from the water and plunge them in ice-cold water.
This process makes the peeling process very easy … or it would have … if I had remembered to put the X on the bottom of my first batch! (oh yes, go ahead and laugh) After about a minute, I remembered the X and quickly scooped them out with my ” spider” tool and used a knife to X them! They peeled just fine after that!
Deseed: So, 35 tomatoes peeled and onto my next step. I guess I never really thought about tomato seeds before. I didn’t realize they would be such a problem in a sauce, but apparently they can leave a bitter taste. Depending on what variety of tomato you use, you can seed in a few ways. With a Roma, just slice in half and squeeze. With a larger, rounder beefsteak tomato, quarter them and then squeeze.
And if you end up with an heirloom tomato, with lots of tiny little crevices … get ready for a mess! Another suggestion after I made this mess was that I could have strained the seeds out, next time I will do THAT!
Cooking: In a large sauce pan I heat 1 T of olive oil on medium heat. I add a small, diced onion and sauté for about 5 minutes, until the onion turns translucent.
While the onions are sautéing, I add in the diced garlic to sauté for an additional minute. Keep stirring and make sure the garlic doesn’t burn, or you’ll have to start over.
Time to add my chopped tomatoes. Once you deseed 35 tomatoes you are left with what looks like 7 tomatoes. I am SO not kidding. I stir them in and continue to cook on medium for about 5 minutes.
Then I lower the heat and let them simmer. The longer the sauce cooks, the richer and more complex the flavor.
You can do a quick sauce in as short as 20 minutes or let the sauce simmer for a couple of hours. I don’t like chunky tomatoes so I use a potato masher to help SMOOSH (my mom’s favorite made up word) down the tomatoes. (You could also you an immersion blender or Vita Mixer to make the sauce thin.) Season with salt and pepper.
Once you are ready to serve, tear up a few basil leaves and stir in during your last few minutes of cook time. Serve over your favorite pasta, garnish with some fresh grated parmesan and enjoy!
If you don’t have fresh tomatos, don’t worry, simply use (2) 28oz cans of San Marzona whole peeled tomatoes. Honestly, I will be using these from now on, faster than peeling and deseeding anyway. (Make sure to check the label for no sodium)
Peel On … and then just buy tomatoes in the can! LOL! That is a BIG Mess for such a little amount of sauce!
PS: I used a technique called chiffonade on the basil. It’s really easy and gives a nice presentation.