Whether it’s the middle of summer or tomato season is ending, you don’t need any reason to use up extra ripe tomatoes to make a delicious yet extremely simple sauce that is better than any store bought sauce. Of course store bought sauce is easier by far, but if you have the extra tomatoes and the time, this basic sauce recipe is more than worth it.
In my case, every summer my mother-in-law and my father both grow tomatoes in their respective gardens. That means my wife and I end up with bushels of tomatoes that we can’t possibly eat fast enough before they go bad. That’s how this recipe was born. I needed a way to use up ripe tomatoes towards the end of the season before they went bad. I hate wasting food, so I figured one way to use up a lot of tomatoes was to make a sauce that I could refrigerate or even freeze for later.
I’ve made tomato sauce from canned tomatoes before and the results were nice, but the high acidity and lack of freshness was always something I noticed. In an attempt to remedy that lack of flavor or freshness, I tried adding ingredients to bring those canned tomatoes back to life. I tried adding things like garlic, herbs, and even sausage or cheese. Those things help, but you’re left with a sauce that tastes more like the added ingredients than fresh bright tomatoes. This recipe is essentially my idea for a basic tomato sauce that balances sweetness with the natural tangy flavor of fresh tomatoes. I was so pleased with how this recipe turned out that no matter how I want to flavor my sauce, this is how I will start (and often end) any kind of tomato sauce preparation. It’s especially good after refrigeration and can keep in the freezer for those months when fresh tomatoes are out of season.
Makes roughly 2 cups of sauce at 335 calories total.
Homemade, Rich, Tomato Sauce Using Fresh Tomatoes
Fresh, Tangy, and Bright Tomato Sauce.
- 9-10 Medium to large tomatoes (~200 calories)
Note: Try different tomato types to change up the flavor of the sauce such as vine-ripened or plum tomatoes.
- 2 teaspoons of olive oil (80 calories)
- 1 medium sweet onion chopped (40 calories)
- 1 teaspoon of sugar (15 calories)
- 2 teaspoons of salt (add more to taste)
- Ice and water (for cooling tomatoes, not for the sauce)
- Large pot
- Medium sauce pot
- Large bowl
- Slotted spoon
- Cutting board
- Hand blender (optional)
- Chop a medium onion.
- Score an “X” onto the bottom of all of the tomatoes using a sharp knife. Don’t go deep with the cut, you just want to slice the top layer of skin. This will make peeling the tomatoes very easy.
- Fill a large mixing bowl with ice and water to cool the tomatoes after blanching them in boiling water.
- Bring a large pot filled half way to 3/4 of the way with water to a strong boil.
- Using a large slotted spoon, place a few tomatoes in the pot at a time to blanche them. Don’t overcrowd the pot. Let the tomatoes boil in the water for maybe 30 seconds or so.
- Then remove them from the boiling water using the slotted spoon and drop them into the bowl of ice water to cool them down quickly.
- Remove the tomatoes onto the cutting board once they are cool. Repeat the process with all of the tomatoes.
- It should now be very easy to peel the tomatoes starting at the “X” cut on the bottom. The skin will practically slide off.
- Use a knife or melon baller to scoop out the top center of the tomato where the vine connects.
- Next, cut the tomatoes into quarters by slicing them in half and then slicing each half again along their centers.
- This next step is optional and fairly controversial. Some people will tell you to scoop out the tomato “jelly” that contains all of the seeds. This makes for a really smooth and clean sauce, but it requires a decent amount of work and can get really messy. Others will argue that the jelly and seeds are where all of the tomato flavor lives, so getting rid of it is a complete waste. The sauce might not be as smooth, but it will have more tomato flavor. De-seeding the tomatoes means less water in the sauce and less simmering, while leaving the jelly in means more flavor, but a potentially longer simmer time due to the excess moisture. I leave the decision up to you and urge you to try the recipe both ways.
- If you de-seeded the tomatoes, great. If you didn’t, that’s also great. Either way, chop up the tomatoes into smaller rough chunks.
- In a medium sauce pot, add two teaspoons of olive oil and heat the pot over medium heat. Once hot, add the chopped onion to the pot. Cook and stir the onions until they start to become translucent. This helps bring out the natural sweetness of the onions. Don’t let the onions char or burn.
- Add in all of the tomatoes to the pot, stir the ingredients together, and bring the tomatoes to a boil before reducing the heat to low. Simmer the tomatoes at a low heat for 2.5 to 3 hours. This low and slow method helps to break down the tomatoes and boil off a lot of the extra moisture to concentrate the tomato flavor into a nice sauce. You can also just simmer for less time (like an hour or so) if you prefer a sauce that tastes more like fresh tomatoes and less like store bought sauce. The cooking time is versatile depending on flavor.
- Half way through simmering, add in the teaspoon of sugar and two teaspoons of salt. Mix well. You can also add other ingredients to the sauce at this point if you want, but I personally don’t think you need to at all. Some additions might include garlic, red chili pepper flakes, Parmesan cheese, basil, oregano, or whatever else you like. Nonetheless, I highly recommend trying the base sauce flavor first before considering additional flavors.
- When you are done simmering, you have two options. If you like a chunky sauce, then you can just serve the sauce as is. Nonetheless, if you want to really go for a uniform consistency, use a hand blender to carefully blend the tomato sauce while still in the pot.
- Serve the sauce immediately with your favorite pasta, crusty bread, or any other way you love to use tomato sauce. Even better, let the sauce cool, place it in an air tight container and refrigerate it overnight before use. Letting the sauce sit really lets the sweet and tangy flavors meld beautifully.
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