If you have a kitchen, chances are you own a jar of tomato sauce. I have six in my cupboard right now. Tomato sauce is such a standard food item – it goes with so many dishes besides pasta, and there’s a wide selection of flavors, from garlic and basil to five cheese blend. I could easily eat it by the spoonful from the jar (and I do!).
Learning how to make tomato sauce was on my list of things to accomplish this past summer where I referred to it as a “must know” meal. What I didn’t realize was that making tomato sauce is actually super easy (I ended up teaching myself using the internet and with bits of advice passed over the phone from a few of my favorite cooks). In fact, supposedly it’s not even difficult to make an excellent tomato sauce. Who knew?
A “true Italian” would know the difference (if any?) between tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce, pasta sauce, marinara, gravy, etc. I admit I have no expertise (yet) in the field of sauces, but the
amateur budding chef in me still believes it’s important to not die having never made a delicious sauce out of whole tomatoes. Because everything is better, more fun, and more exciting to enjoy homemade! And there’s just something about stirring a sauce on the stove with a wooden spoon.
When my neighbors shared with us tomatoes from their gardens recently, it was the perfect opportunity to roll up my sleeves, get out my cutest apron, and get to work on my first sauce. I made a few quick phone calls to ask about tomato sauce best practices. I was assured that you really can’t go wrong making sauce, and no two tomato sauces are the same as there are so many ways to change it up based on what you put in. For me, I just used what I had on hand. I spent five minutes looking online at various recipes, and then I closed my laptop and improvised.
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
fresh basil leaves, about a handful
1 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper
Begin by washing 8 large beefsteak tomatoes. On the stove, let a pot of water come to a boil and place all the tomatoes in for 1 minute to blanch (some recipes say 30 seconds, some say 1-2 minutes).
While the tomatoes are cooling in the cold water, prepare the onions and garlic. Drizzle olive oil into a big pot and let it heat up. First warm the onions, then add the garlic, basil and spices.
When the tomatoes are cool enough to touch, peel the skins off. Then use a knife to cut out where the stem had been and cut each tomato in half. Using your finger, slide the seeds out, but don’t worry if you don’t get them all!
Add the tomatoes to the pot, cover it and let it slow simmer. Set the timer for 45 minutes to an hour or until your desired thickness, stirring occasionally.
For this particular meal that I was preparing (pasta and marinara sauce with Italian sausage), I put a few frozen links of pre-cooked lean Italian turkey sausage in a skillet with olive oil just to brown the meat. I did this with 15 minutes left to the sauce being on the stove, and while the pasta was cooking on another burner.
When the meat was browned, I placed it in the sauce for the last few minutes of cooking for the flavors to combine.
By this point, my mouth was watering and I could not wait to eat – and the entire process took less than 90 minutes! I could not believe I waited so long to make my first tomato sauce!
With a little shredded parmesan cheese on top … tada, the meal was done! I made my own tomato sauce – marinara style. Now, I can add this to my list of recipes and check another goal off my list. Bon appétit!