A basic homemade tomato sauce for me is crucial to always have in stock in the freezer. To make a real good one is easy, but it takes time and love! And you will taste that! Therefore I try to make every now and then a pan where you can probably feed about 16 people with, and I freeze the big batch in smaller portions. Now I hear you think: ‘Where on earth do you need all the tomato sauce for?’ Well, for lots of our favourites! For Bolognese sauce, pasta Puttanesca, Chili con carne, Shakskuka, Melanzane alla Parmigiano, meat balls in tomato sauce, as a base for homemade pizza, and I can go on and on and on. To make an ‘all right’ tomato sauce is very quick and easy – true. With an onion, a clove of garlic, some good (tinned or fresh) tomatoes and dried Italian herbs you are already halfway. But to make an outstanding, real good tomato sauce, you have to go that extra mile. Also, Italian ‘ di mammas’ prefer to take their time for the best tomato sauce. You can let tomato base simmer for 8 over high heat minutes and it’s ok. But if you let it simmer for longer on low heat, stir every now and then, taste often, you make it super tasty! Make this sauce every month, or every two months (depending how big your family is) and you will always have stock in your freezer. Perfect! Before you start make sure you use a real big pot, and make sure you feel like doing lots of chopping that day(or let someone chop for you, like I always do with The Mister). And last but not least; cook this base for lots of dishes on a day you are happy, well tempered, so you’re able to add some love to your dish. Really, this is important. I can taste in my food (especially this kind of food! Risotto, tomato sauce, soups, stews!) if I was happy and serene, or impatient and grumpy.
For a big pan of tomato sauce, probably enough to freeze about 4 portion for 4 people (so this recipe must be enough for 14-16 people)
3 onions, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or crushed
2 red chilli peppers, seeds removed (or not) and finely chopped (in case no pepper in house – use teaspoon of hot cayenne or chili powder)
5-6 tablespoons olive oil
3 tins (à 400 gram) peeled Italian tomatoes in tomato juice (Pomodori or San Marzano tomatoes are the best)
6-8 fresh tomatoes, peeled off the skin and de-seeded (in case tomatoes are out of season and not tasty at the moment, use an extra tin of peeled tomatoes)
100-140 gram concentrated tomato puree
1 jar (about 500 ml) of passata di pomodoro
100 ml red wine
4 teaspoons sugar
2,5 teaspoon of salt
1,5 teaspoons sambal or chilli-flakes
2-4 teaspoons of dried Italian herbs (to taste)
1-2 teaspoons black pepper (freshly grounded)
2 tablespoons balsamico vinegar
optional: about 300 ml beef or vegetable stock, or a stock tablet
optional: 10-12 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped (in case you’d like to keep you basic tomato sauce neutral you can leave this and add the herb of your preference – for example oregano, sage, coriander, parsley – once you use the de-frosted sauce)
Do some preparation first: cut the onions, peel of the skin of fresh tomatoes and de-seed, crush garlic, finely chop red chilli pepper and make sure all other ingredients are ready to use.
Put big heavy pot or casserole on medium heat with the olive oil. Sauté the onion until soft (but not brown) and add the garlic and (if you use fresh) the chilli. Let simmer softly for another 2 minutes.
Add tomato paste and (if you use this) sambal and fry for about 2-3 minutes so the natural sourness of the tomato paste will disappear. Deglaze with the red wine and balsamic vinegar.
Add all other ingredients and let simmer for about 20 minutes on low heat, lid half Rinse the tomato tins with a little bit of water to get out the last tomato liquid. Also add (if you use it, it is not essential) now about 300 ml of beef or vegetable stock or just add a stock-tablet.
Check the consistency of the sauce and let it simmer (low-medium heat) without lid for a thicker sauce or take off the heat when you are happy. Taste and season extra if necessary. (don’t be afraid for some extra dried Italian herbs, this is really good in a tomato sauce. Pepper is also always good in this sauce. If you find the sauce too sour, add an extra pinch of sugar)
Divide the sauce in portions, cool down, write labels and… freeze! Try to defrost your sauce one day before using, but if you forget you can also let it defrost on low heat in a small pan. Bon Appétit!