Monday, March 14, 2011

Homemade Tomato Sauce Sunday

I'll admit that in the occasional last minute situation I'll resort to a bottle of pre-made tomato sauce (usually from Trader Joe's), but it's definitely rare and I'll tell you why. Because making homemade tomato sauce is actually very easy! I've been using this same recipe for at least 6 years (basically since I started cooking for myself) - and my mom's been using it as long as she can remember. I think if I look back it comes from the Leone family (on my dad's side by marriage) - but either way, it's a keeper! As you can see from the title of this entry - it's a great Sunday afternoon cooking activity, and it's exactly what I did this past Sunday! Making up one big batch is perfect for me - I can keep some in the fridge and then freeze the rest in smaller portions so I don't have to make fresh sauce every time I want to cook with it (as you can see with all of my containers to the left). It's not just pasta and sauce that you can use it for either - you can use this homemade tomato sauce for an endless list of recipes: stuffed shells, lasagna, homemade pizza, soup, spaghetti and homemade meatballs, stuffed peppers, chicken/eggplant parmigiana - I could keep on going but I think you probably just want the recipe by now!

Homemade Family Tomato Sauce
Pastene Ground Peeled Kitchen Ready Tomatoes - 28 oz. can
1 can tomato paste
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sugar
1/2 TB olive oil
1 TB minced garlic
half of an onion, chopped well
Dried parsley, oregano and basil - 1/2 tsp of each
Salt and Pepper


1. Over medium high, heat the oil in a large sauce pan and add the onion, sautéing for just 3-5 minutes to cook the onion a bit. Add the garlic and cook another minute or two - be careful to stir occasionally so that the onion and garlic don't burn!
2. Next you'll add the can of crushed tomatoes. There's a wide variety of tomatoes you can use in this step, but it depends on how you like your sauce. I like to use these kitchen ready ground tomatoes, but if you like your tomato sauce more with chunks of tomatoes you can use that variety too.

3. After adding the tomatoes from the can, don't throw the can out just yet! I saw a show on the food network once that talked about respecting the food that you cook with - that using the can to add water, gets every bit of ingredient out of the can, which is respectful to that food. With that said, you want to fill this large can half full of water (swirl around a bit to get all of the tomatoes!) and add that to the sauce pan too! You want to do the same thing with the tomato paste - add the paste and then fill the can TWICE with water and empty those 2 cans of water into the sauce pan! Stir around a bit to incorporate the paste into the sauce.

4. Add the sugar and baking soda and this, to the left, is what's going to happen. It's supposed to do that, I promise! It will bubble a bit, especially when you start stirring it. We add these two ingredients to help reduce the acidity and flavor balance from the tomatoes. Don't worry - you won't be serving a cauldron of bubbling tomato sauce, eventually it will stop bubbling!
5. Add all of your herbs, and the salt and pepper. Stir everything together and bring to a slow boil. As soon as it starts boiling though, turn down the heat to low and let simmer. You can let the sauce simmer for as much time as you have. You want to simmer, at a minimum for a good hour, which will help the sauce to reduce and thicken but my mom's been known to let her sauce simmer for a good 10 hours sometimes.
6. You'll be able to tell it has reduced because of the sauce line on the inside of the pan, which can help you know when it's ready! Make sure to take a spoonful to taste - and feel free to add additional salt and pepper if it needs it. You can also add other ingredients if you like - some people like chopped pepper or mushrooms in their sauce. I'm all about the traditional red sauce when I'm making up a big batch like this though!

Another neat idea - if you only use a little sauce at a time, fill an ice cube tray with the sauce and once they're frozen you can throw them in a big. That way, when you need a little sauce you can take out just one cube, or a few! You can do the same with pestos if you like making those too!

1 comment:

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