Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Simplest Tomato Sauce

Here is a quick one. With five (or six) ingredients and 10 to 30 minutes of time you can make a very simple tomato sauce for all kinds of dishes. Pasta is the most obvious choice, but if you make a lot of this at once it can be used on nearly any dish asking for a tomato based sauce. The best part is, you can recreate the version of tomato sauce that you yourself like. I prefer mine thick and smooth in consistency, but this sauce can be thin and chunky and so on and so forth.

The key to making this sauce well is heat regulation and emulsifying the sauce. After that, making this sauce to your tastes is the hardest part. I'm going to explain in the directions on how to tackle the first two problems, but I will explain the last one here:
  • Thickness:
    • For a thinner sauce that is more like a good marinara do not reduce for any longer than 10 minutes. Serve this immediately as the sauce will reduce further and thicken as it cools.
    • For a thicker sauce reduce for the full 30 minutes or even more until a desired thickness is reached. While reducing be careful not to let the sauce boil. It should only be simmering so it is necessary to lower the heat as the amount of liquid in the pot decreases.
  • Consistency:
    • For a chunky sauce I recommend using canned diced tomatoes, but if you like it extremely chunky chopped is okay too. I prefer Pomi brand for all of these recipes by the way.
    • For a smooth sauce you can use strained, ground, or pureed tomatoes in a can. Each will have a slightly different texture in the end, but they are all comparable.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil & Garlic:
    • Use a mid range extra virgin olive oil to make this sauce. Nothing too expensive, but also nothing too cheap.
    • Do not use more than the directed amount of garlic until you taste the sauce once or twice! This is not like making ragu and a little garlic will go longer than you might think.
  • Basil:
    • Completely optional, in fact I prefer my sauce without it. Go a head and use it if you have it in the fridge, or if you want a sauce that has a touch of basil in the background.
Simple Tomato Sauce:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
28 ounces canned tomatoes (diced, chopped, strained, ground, or pureed)
2 cloves garlic. crushed or finely minced
2 teaspoons minced basil leaves (optional)

1. Heat olive oil and garlic in a small pot over medium low heat. Gently cook the garlic for 5 minutes, being careful not to fry it, saute it, or change its color in anyway.
2. Add 1/2 a cup of the tomatoes to the pot and whisk thoroughly until the tomatoes and the olive oil are well mixed.
3. Keep adding the tomatoes in 1/2 cup amounts and incorporate each addition by whisking thoroughly. Repeat this until all the tomatoes are used.
4. Keep the pot over medium low heat and reduce 10 to 30 minutes (or more) until you reach your desired thickness, then finish with salt and pepper to taste.

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