Saturday, 9 April 2011

Tomato sauce.

Today I had planned to try my hand, for the first time, at making homemade pasta sauce, specifically tomato sauce.  I eat a lot of pasta, so knowing how to make homemade sauce is crucial so that I can reduce the amount of bottles and jars that I need to recycle.  I picked up many of the ingredients at Drive Organics (tomatoes, shallots, tomato paste) and a few from Superstore (celery, basil, fresh Italian herb blend).  And some white wine from a liquor store (the cheapest dry white wine I could find). The rest of the ingredients I already had in my kitchen.  The ingredients I used:
  1. 9 ripe tomatoes (medium to large)
  2. 2 tbsp of oil I had left over from a jar of sundried tomatoes (just use plain olive oil if you don't have anything like this to use)
  3. 2 tbsp butter
  4. 1 shallot, diced
  5. 1 red pepper, diced
  6. 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  7. 1/4 cup fresh basil
  8. 1 tbsp fresh Italian herb blend (less if you are using dried Italian seasoning)
  9. 1/4 cup dry white wine
  10. 2 stalks of celery
  11. 1 small can of tomato paste (mine was 156 mL)
  12. Additional seasonings to taste (I added sea salt, pepper, mustard powder, celery seed, dried basil, dried parsley flakes, dried oregano flakes)

First, you bring a pot of water to a boil (large enough to hold all the tomatoes).  Place the tomatoes in the boiling water and after a minute remove them with a slotted spoon and transfer them into an ice bath.  The skins will be loose. Cut the tomatoes in half, top to bottom, slide the skins off, cut the stem area out, and squeeze out the seeds.  The seeds will shoot out, so hold them in the sink.  I was not overly careful to get all of the seeds out, I just gave them each a squeeze then set them aside.  This is what the bowl of tomatoes looked like:

In a large saucepan at medium heat, combine the oil, butter, onion and garlic.  Saute for five minutes or so, until the onion starts to soften.  While you are waiting, throw the tomatoes into a food processor and blend to desired consistency.  If the consistency is too chunky, you can process the sauce again later (this is what I did).  If you would like to have chunks of tomatoes in the sauce at the end, you can leave two of the tomatoes out of the food processor and just dice them.  Add the processed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, if any, basil, Italian herbs/seasoning and wine to the saucepan.  Chop each stalk of celery in half and add to the mixture.  Make sure everything is well combined before you add the celery, because that will make the mixture difficult to stir.  Bring contents to a boil then reduce heat so that the sauce is simmering.  Cover for two hours.  Stir occasionally.

After two hours, add the tomato paste.  From this point on, you will simmer the sauce for two more hours.  This is the time when I pureed the mixture again to make it very smooth.  Unfortunately, once I did so, it looked and tasted exactly like tomato soup (a bit runny, plain and unflavourful compared to what I was expecting).  So I decided at this point to raise the heat to about 3 out of 10 and uncover the sauce to thicken it.  I also added six pinches of sea salt, about 1/2 tsp pepper, 1/4 tsp mustard powder, 1/4 tsp celery seed, 1/4 tsp dried basil, 1/4 tsp dried parsley flakes and 1/4 tsp dried oregano flakes.  Before serving, remove the celery stalks and discard.  Here was the final product:

And here was my pasta with tomato sauce topped with nutritional yeast (if you've never tried nutritional yeast, although it looks questionable, it is really quite tasty, almost cheesy, and very nutritious):
While the sauce was cooking, I checked on it every 15-30 minutes just to give it a stir.  It will be pretty bland without the addition of some spices and salt and pepper, so be creative!  If you try the recipe, feel free to leave a comment, and if you modify the recipe and it turns out well, please leave a comment and let me and others know what you have tried and how it turned out. Bon appetite!

1 comment:

  1. For the past couple years I have made the tomato sauce recipe from the book Animal Vegetable Miracle (one of my favorite books of all time). It is quite sweet, but cans really well, and lets us have sauce all winter.