Quantcast

Never made an Italian tomato sauce. What's you best recipe?

Kitchen Knife Forums

Help Support Kitchen Knife Forums:

WildBoar

Home cook, knife accumulator
Founding Member
Supporting Member
Joined
Feb 28, 2011
Messages
4,673
Reaction score
818
Location
NoVa (US)
Orangehero, There are two basic ways to make tomato sauce: 1) quick and 'fresh'; 2) long simmers over a couple of days, preferably with some meat in the sauce for added flavor.

2) is the typical 'sunday sauce' common in Italian-American households. That is what I grew up with, and what both grandmothers made. I still cook up large batches this was a few times/ year. And during the summer when we have loads of tomatoes from the garden, we are much more likely to do a dice and make a quick 'fresh' sauce.
 

HRC_64

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 9, 2017
Messages
2,714
Reaction score
565
Fresh tomato sauce is called 'Salsa'...:)

Properly 'fresh' (ie, raw tomatoes) are full of water and need to be salted at a minimum. However, even raw salsa's benefit from some time for the flavours to consolidate (chile peppers and the aromatics, etc). So everything is on a continuum...
 

JustinP

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 26, 2019
Messages
328
Reaction score
54
Location
Greeley, CO
I cook many tomato sauces depending on the dish, but my favorite basic sauce of all time is still Marcella Hazan's.

1 28oz can San Marzano tomatoes
5 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half

That's it, besides a little salt if needed. Put the butter and sliced onion in the pot, pour in the tomatoes. Bring to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes or so, uncovered. Break up the tomatoes when you stir from time to time with the spoon. Also works great with fresh tomatoes.
 

Uncle Mike

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 25, 2019
Messages
59
Reaction score
65
Location
USA
The way I do it anyway... couple cups finely diced carrots sautéed for maybe 15 minutes, then add cup finely diced celery, go another 10 min or so, and 1-2c diced onions and go until soft. Add lots of smashed garlic. Couple large cans hand-crushed Muir Glen organic peeled tomatoes, or mix it up with one regular can and one fire roasted. Handful fresh basil, dried Italian herbs. Simmer few hours then hit with a stick blender. Cooking the carrots so long adds a nice sweetness so I usually don’t need to add sugar. Add salt and pepper.
This interested me with the amount of carrots and cooking them so long, so I tried it.

Veg cut up


Veg cooked in sauté pan (I don’t like to sauté in Le Creuset, it is passed down from mother-in-law and I don’t want to stain it)



Sauce when first all combined



After cooking and blending



Came out very good, very tomato tasting, not carroty at all. I used these tomatoes



Thank you @brianh for the recipe!
 

parbaked

Senior Member
Joined
May 10, 2017
Messages
1,754
Reaction score
1,790
Location
San Francisco
I use the Cento whole tomatoes...good choice.
I like this recipe except for the stick blender...my Nana didn't have one.
Blending can add a little air to sauce and change the texture.
Best to put the tomatoes through a food mill before cooking...or just crush them with a potato masher.
 

Interapid101

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 19, 2017
Messages
247
Reaction score
81
Great suggestions here. Hazan’s recipe is indeed amazing, and the one we use most often at home. So easy and versatile, easy to add other ingredients. (Anchovies or anchovy paste is always nice.)

One thing I always add: berbere. A tablespoon per 28 oz of San marzanos works great. If you know anyone from Ethiopia, they’ll probably tell you they make the best spaghetti. Berbere is the secret ingredient. You’ll never be able to detect it (unless you use heaps of it) but it makes the sauce so much more savory somehow. And just a little spicy. Try it! I’ll be shocked if you don’t love it.
 

WildBoar

Home cook, knife accumulator
Founding Member
Supporting Member
Joined
Feb 28, 2011
Messages
4,673
Reaction score
818
Location
NoVa (US)
This interested me with the amount of carrots and cooking them so long, so I tried it.

Veg cut up


Veg cooked in sauté pan (I don’t like to sauté in Le Creuset, it is passed down from mother-in-law and I don’t want to stain it)



Sauce when first all combined



After cooking and blending



Came out very good, very tomato tasting, not carroty at all. I used these tomatoes



Thank you @brianh for the recipe!
Perfect -- I made an almost-identical sauce last week (I included a little wine and some pepper flakes). As far as blending, etc. goes, I let it cook for a while while mashing the whole tomatoes with a wooden spoon. After I bit I broke out the potato masher. But near the end I made a quick pass with a stick blender -- mainly to break down the carrots and onions, but also some of the bigger tomato bits. If you keep cooking it a while after using the stick blender any issues with texture due to increased air are not an issue (in my experience).
 

parbaked

Senior Member
Joined
May 10, 2017
Messages
1,754
Reaction score
1,790
Location
San Francisco
If you keep cooking it a while after using the stick blender any issues with texture due to increased air are not an issue (in my experience).
Yes...if you cook it long enough, after stick blending, the air you added gets cooked out but I still think it's better to pick any number of ways to smash the whole tomatoes without adding air...but that's just out of respect for my Italian Nana...
 

Uncle Mike

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 25, 2019
Messages
59
Reaction score
65
Location
USA
All great suggestions. Looking forward to trying the berbere. For me blending is where it’s at




I’ve catered weddings and events for 100’s of people, but now it’s all about what the grandson likes. And he likes it smooth, not chunky, so I blend.

 

WildBoar

Home cook, knife accumulator
Founding Member
Supporting Member
Joined
Feb 28, 2011
Messages
4,673
Reaction score
818
Location
NoVa (US)
Yes...if you cook it long enough, after stick blending, the air you added gets cooked out but I still think it's better to pick any number of ways to smash the whole tomatoes without adding air...but that's just out of respect for my Italian Nana...
Mine would puree the tomatoes in a blender first, but in her defense she came to the US when she was 4 years old. My mom pureed them as well. On my dad's side of the family, they canned dozens of bushels of tomatoes at the end of each summer, and they were all pureed; but once again, they all came over as kids.
 

WildBoar

Home cook, knife accumulator
Founding Member
Supporting Member
Joined
Feb 28, 2011
Messages
4,673
Reaction score
818
Location
NoVa (US)
Trader Giotto's for the win! :cool:
 

brianh

Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 13, 2013
Messages
1,791
Reaction score
20
This interested me with the amount of carrots and cooking them so long, so I tried it.

Veg cut up


Veg cooked in sauté pan (I don’t like to sauté in Le Creuset, it is passed down from mother-in-law and I don’t want to stain it)



Sauce when first all combined



After cooking and blending



Came out very good, very tomato tasting, not carroty at all. I used these tomatoes



Thank you @brianh for the recipe!
Looks awesome, I’m glad you liked it!
 

Mucho Bocho

Supporting Member
Joined
Feb 17, 2012
Messages
3,800
Reaction score
132
Location
Raleigh, NC
Tomato sauce doesn’t require a power too nor is it intended to be consumed through a straw says Grandma Vantangoli.
 

WildBoar

Home cook, knife accumulator
Founding Member
Supporting Member
Joined
Feb 28, 2011
Messages
4,673
Reaction score
818
Location
NoVa (US)
Tomato sauce doesn’t require a power too nor is it intended to be consumed through a straw says Grandma Vantangoli.
Yhe beauty is we can make it better than grandma could. Tomato sauce was not constant from the beginning up until the times our grandparents made it -- it evolved to get to that point. And there is no reason for it to stay frozen now in a snapshot from 40 year ago. :cool:

Heck, the reason they did not use small appliances in my dad's family is because they had no small appliances. When we visited the small town my paternal grandfather was from in '92, the one remaining cousin of my grandfather, who was in his late 70s, had just bought his older sister her first indoor stove. They made do with what they had, just like we make do today with what we have. In 2-3 generations people will think we were primitive with our current cooking appliances.
 

brianh

Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 13, 2013
Messages
1,791
Reaction score
20
Here in NJ, land of the Sopranos, the best two local Italian joints are run by Albanians and a guy named Juan. Tradition isn’t always flavor.
 

Mucho Bocho

Supporting Member
Joined
Feb 17, 2012
Messages
3,800
Reaction score
132
Location
Raleigh, NC
Sure one can add anything to a tomato sauce, including using electric appliances, even heating up some tomatoes then add jared sauces to it. I'm not convinced that using using a power tool is going to improve the sauce. I don't think cooking the sauce over a wood fired stove vs a induction burner makes it less quality.

There are more ways than one to skin a cat and technical catsup made in Italy is also an Italian tomato sauce, but it aint what most would call an Italian tomato sauce as the original posted is inquiring about.
 

HRC_64

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 9, 2017
Messages
2,714
Reaction score
565
Italians commonly use passata,which eliminates alot of these issues, no?
 

WildBoar

Home cook, knife accumulator
Founding Member
Supporting Member
Joined
Feb 28, 2011
Messages
4,673
Reaction score
818
Location
NoVa (US)
Sure one can add anything to a tomato sauce, including using electric appliances, even heating up some tomatoes then add jared sauces to it. I'm not convinced that using using a power tool is going to improve the sauce. I don't think cooking the sauce over a wood fired stove vs a induction burner makes it less quality.

There are more ways than one to skin a cat and technical catsup made in Italy is also an Italian tomato sauce, but it aint what most would call an Italian tomato sauce as the original posted is inquiring about.
Neither of my grandmothers put in carrot/ onion/ celery. That is something I typically add though, and buzzing with a stick blender helps break them down so the sauce is not too chunky. I would challenge you to try it in person and say it is not a 'real tomato sauce' like the OP asked about.

Italians commonly use passata,which eliminates alot of these issues, no?
That isn't something my family every did. But it is something I have done a couple of times when I wasn't going to be putting sausages into the sauce.

What it comes down to is there are infinite minor differences between ingredients and techniques for tomato sauce, whether it is made by a 'real' Italian in Italy, a descendant here in the US, or someone from some other part of the world who learned from a chef they used to cook with.

My two grandmothers made sauces that were distinctive from each other. Red sauces I had while on trips to Italy varied a lot as well.
 

Mucho Bocho

Supporting Member
Joined
Feb 17, 2012
Messages
3,800
Reaction score
132
Location
Raleigh, NC
Neither of my grandmothers put in carrot/ onion/ celery. That is something I typically add though, and buzzing with a stick blender helps break them down so the sauce is not too chunky. I would challenge you to try it in person and say it is not a 'real tomato sauce' like the OP asked about.

Dave, I know you're a good cook, not as good as I am but still decent ;-). Also I like my sauce chunky.
 

Keith Sinclair

Supporting Member
Joined
May 10, 2012
Messages
4,115
Reaction score
469
Location
Hawaii
What a great thread. I get an over abundance of cherry tomatoes when they ripen. Could not eat enough in salads so made sauce from them. They are really sweet. fresh basil, onions, garlic, celery. Used to like ground pork in pasta sauce, these days either go vegetarian or Aidells smoked chicken sausage brown it in skillet then add to sauce. Wine, salt, fresh ground pepper. Like a little lemon juice to add a bit of citrus to tomato sauce. A pinch of organic cane sugar.

Also use home grown cherry tomatoes in curry sauce.

Going to try some ideas on this thread. Don't think you can lose chopping up a couple anchovies. See if can find Cento whole tomatoes here.

Been using whole grain pasta and Linguine. Don't knock it before you try it. It is good & healthy.
 

nonoyes

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 19, 2018
Messages
109
Reaction score
29
Another fan of Hazan's recipe which sticks so nicely to starchy noodles. (I put some of the sauce in a saute pan and transfer al-dente noodles straight in to finish cooking).

For a fresher taste there is a recipe in Ducasse's "Cooking School" for meatballs with couscous. The meatballs cook in a simple sauce composed of fresh tomatoes (blanched, peeled, seeded), a little stock, and a little paprika. I think that's it. The sauce you end up with is fresh-tasting but still mild due to the stock and the fact that is cooked mostly covered. That sauce is excellent. It loses just enough moisture to be thick but remains bright, fresh, and tomato-ey.

(The meatballs are packed with fresh herbs that might contribute something but the sauce itself doesn't taste of herbs.)
 

panda

O.G.
Supporting Member
Joined
Dec 3, 2012
Messages
7,891
Reaction score
2,093
Location
south florida
I used to really like store bought Rao's homemade tomato sauce. Word got out that this product is fantastic and to keep up with demand they ruined the recipe. It costs more and doesn't taste as good as it used to.
 

WildBoar

Home cook, knife accumulator
Founding Member
Supporting Member
Joined
Feb 28, 2011
Messages
4,673
Reaction score
818
Location
NoVa (US)
Rao's has definitely become hit-or-miss. Some sauces are really good, and some not so much. Used to always keep a jar or two of their vodka sauce on hand, but haven't had it now for a few years. I hope it is still one of the good ones.

On a related note, we started buying fresh pasta and sauces at Superior Pasta in Philly during visits a few years ago. Their sauce have been pretty good. We order a handful of fresh pastas and sauces once or twice a year, and have yet to be disappointed.
 

Keith Sinclair

Supporting Member
Joined
May 10, 2012
Messages
4,115
Reaction score
469
Location
Hawaii
Thanks to this thread got some Cento peeled tomatoes, crushed, & tomato paste. It really is a better product. Not a bunch of added stuff. Just good tomatoes.

Made a sauce much better than the bottled sauces. Almost as good as tomatoes fresh from the garden.
 

mille162

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 30, 2015
Messages
455
Reaction score
122
I used to really like store bought Rao's homemade tomato sauce. Word got out that this product is fantastic and to keep up with demand they ruined the recipe. It costs more and doesn't taste as good as it used to.
Panda, I can confirm. Always had a jar of Rao’s marinara for nights we needed a quick prep meal. It used to be only specialty supermarkets carried it, now I can buy at Costco. Had a jar this past monday night tossed with La Fabricco Della pasta. It had an overly strong garlic profile where you can taste an garlic/onion powder, not much tomato taste other than being slightly acidic. Ingredient list has dried oregano, doesn’t specify “type” of onion of garlic used, but the taste is def not the same as it was a year+ ago. Time to go back to making large batches of marinara and canning for later use...

IMG_5443.jpg

IMG_5430.jpg
 

Uncle Mike

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 25, 2019
Messages
59
Reaction score
65
Location
USA
Sorry to hear about the Rao’s. We got some on sale a year or so ago and really liked it.
 

Latest posts

Top