Today’s recipe is for a very Basic sort of tomato sauce. Obviously, the most basic version of a tomato sauce would consist only of tomatoes simmered down to a sauce (and this can be terrific with tomatoes fresh from the vine) but although we are getting a bit more complex here, the result is a plain sauce that contains no strong seasonings (such as oregano, for instance) which might limit its uses to certain types of dishes. Rather, the Basic Sauce that results here can be used standalone, or as a base for more complex preparations.
- 2 x 750ml cans crushed Tomatoes;
- 1 cup finely diced Onion;
- ½ cup each of finely diced tomato and celery;
- ¼ cup minced Garlic;
- ½ cup good quality Olive Oil.
- Pinch each Salt and Pepper;
Our basic sauce begins with the use of some finely chopped vegetable ingredients that will add many layers of depth to the final product. The blend of chopped onion, carrot, and celery is known as a ‘mirepoix’ in French cookery, ‘refogado’ in Portuguese, and ‘trito’ in Italian. You can vary the proportions of each to suit your taste but I find it best to be discreet with the carrot as overuse mars the final result.
Heat the oil in a pot over low heat and then add the veggies. This may seem like quite a lot of oil at first but the result will be good
The idea, here, is to first sweat the ingredients and then slowly cook everything until all is soft and the aroma becomes sweet. The process should take twenty or thirty minutes and you want to let the onion color a little but not brown.
Now add the tomatoes, breaking up any large pieces, if necessary, and allow the pot to simmer for an hour or so. Once the tomatoes are really starting to break down, you can leave it as is, or use a wand blender and make a nice smooth sauce out of it all.
The pot in the very first picture shows the sauce after it has been pureed with a hand ‘whizzer’. The result is fairly smooth but, while the ‘rustic quality’ will be fine in all sorts of cases, you may also want a ‘creamier’ consistency for certain types of sauces. In the picture above, I passed the sauce through a small strainer, rubbing with a spoon so that only the more resilient fibrous pieces remained. You lose a little in volume when you do this, but the end product is much more refined … Either way is good though!