Basic Fresh Tomato Sauce
August and September are tomato harvest season in the East, when thousands of cooks pack summer's bounty into jars of fruity tomato sauce to last them the whole year. This sauce freezes well, and can also be canned.
INGREDIENTS | YIELDS 1 quart
- 4 pounds tomatoes, preferably roma plum tomatoes, but any variety will do
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup washed fresh basil leaves, stems removed (optional)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Halve the tomatoes and squeeze out as many seeds as you can. Dice the tomatoes.
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch Oven (pan should be enamel, steel, or glass-lined) over medium heat until hot enough to sizzle when a piece of onion is added. Add the onions; cook until soft and beginning to brown slightly, about 10 minutes.
Stir in the garlic, sugar, and tomato paste; cook 2 minutes more, stirring constantly. Add the tomatoes; cook 10 minutes until mixture becomes brothy.
Uncover, lower flame to a slow simmer, and cook 30 minutes more, until all tomatoes are fully softened; season to taste. If you prefer chunky sauce, add the basil, if desired. For smooth sauce, purée and strain, then add the basil leaves at the end.