Tomato sauce - a choice of four original recipes.

tomato sauce
It is quite strange to think that when tomatoes were first introduced into Italy during the sixteenth century, the Italians thought that they were poisonous and would not eat them. Nowadays, almost every Italian dish contains tomatoes in some shape or form and Italian cuisine would not be quite the same without them.

A well-made fresh tomato sauce is the basis for a number of popular Italian sauces, such as the hot and spicy "Arrabiata" sauce made from tomatoes and chillies, Puttanesca (tomato, olives and anchovies), "Marinara", a herb and tomato sauce and "Napolitana", which is a simple sauce containing tomatoes, onion, garlic and fresh herbs.
Tomato sauce made to accompany pasta can be prepared in a number of ways. There are quick methods, whereby a delicious and rich tomato sauce can be conjured up within 20 minutes, and there are those methods that can take several hours to prepare.

If you have the time, it is best to use fresh tomatoes, especially if they are in season.

The skin from the tomatoes should be peeled and the tomatoes should also be de-seeded.

In order to peel the fresh tomatoes, the easiest way is to place them in a pan of boiling water until the skin becomes soft. This should take between 15 - 30 seconds. Then, plunge them into ice-cold water so that the cooking process is halted. Drain the tomatoes and then start to peel them with a knife. The skin should come away fairly easily.

The seeds can be removed from the tomatoes by passing the tomatoes through a sieve. This is definitely worth doing, as the sauce will taste less bitter without the seeds.

When tomatoes are in season during the summer, choose the big, ripe, fleshy ones, as they will give the best flavour to your sauce. At other times of the year, plum tomatoes (Roma) or tinned whole tomatoes are the next best thing.

Most recipes for a good tomato sauce contain basic ingredients such as fresh herbs, garlic, onion and olive oil. However, you can choose a recipe that is as simple as you like or one that has additional ingredients to liven it up a bit.

Other ingredients that you may find in a tomato sauce recipe are sugar, red wine, chicken stock, green pepper or parmesan cheese, to name a few.

Below are several recipes for tomato sauce, ranging from the very basic to the somewhat more elaborate.

Very basic tomato sauce

  • 2 lb (900g) of fresh tomatoes, peeled, de-seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 oz (30g) butter
  • ½ tsp of sugar
  • salt and pepper
  1. First prepare the tomatoes as above.
  2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a low heat.
  3. Add the tomatoes and stir.
  4. Cook slowly for about 5 minutes, with the lid covering the pan.
  5. After 5 minutes, add the sugar and stir into the tomato mixture.
  6. Partially cover the saucepan with the lid and cook the sauce for 30 minutes or until the sauce has thickened and the tomatoes are very soft.
  7. Season with the salt and pepper and serve with your favourite pasta.
  8. If not using immediately, the sauce can be stored in the refrigerator or it can be frozen for up to a year.

Easy tomato sauce

  • 1 tin of whole tomatoes (28 oz)
  • ¼ cup of freshly chopped basil
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 2 tsp of chopped garlic
  • salt and pepper
  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium sized saucepan and fry the garlic for about a minute.
  2. Add the tomatoes to the pan.
  3. Cook the garlic and tomatoes for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Mash or blend the tomatoes in the pan. This can either be done with a hand blender, potato masher or you could transfer the mixture to a food processor.
  5. Season with the salt and pepper and continue to cook gently for a few more minutes.
  6. Add the chopped basil and stir into the sauce.
  7. Serve immediately.

Extra tomato sauce

  • 1 can of crushed tomatoes (28 oz)
  • 1 medium diced onion
  • ½ cup of red wine
  • 3 finely sliced cloves of garlic
  • ½ cup of freshly chopped basil
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tbsp of sugar
  • salt and pepper
  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium sized saucepan over a low heat.
  2. Add the diced onion, cover the pan and cook gently until the onions have softened (5 - 10 minutes).
  3. Add the basil and the garlic and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  4. Add the red wine and cook uncovered until the sauce has reduced by about half.
  5. Finally add the chopped tinned tomatoes and simmer for 15 - 20 minutes.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Remove from the heat and serve once the desired consistency has been reached.

Tomato sauce with green pepper

  • 4 medium-sized fresh tomatoes, skinned and de-seeded
  • 1 green pepper, cored and de-seeded
  • ½ a medium onion, sliced
  • ½ tsp of sugar
  • 1 sliced clove of garlic
  • ½ tsp of dried oregano
  • salt and pepper
  1. Place the tomatoes, green pepper and onion into a blender and blend the ingredients together until a smooth purée has formed.
  2. Add the garlic, oregano and season with the salt and pepper.
  3. Continue to blend.
  4. Transfer the liquid to a saucepan and slowly bring to the boil.
  5. Once the sauce reaches boiling point, reduce the heat and simmer gently until the sauce reduces to the desired consistency.
  6. Check the seasoning and serve.

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