This sauce! How could we begin to describe the wonder which is this sauce!? How could we convince you that this sauce, is something that you absolutely have to make…like, today…before it becomes difficult to find sweet, vine ripened tomatoes. Will it help if we tell you that this sauce, so basic, so simple, will elevate your dishes in ways you could barely imagine?! It’s true! It’s so deliciously true!
This is a starter sauce, meaning that it is the base upon which you can experiment and let your imagination run wild. Although delicious on it’s own, it is made of just a few ingredients; depending upon the dish it will ultimately become a part of, our parents will then add more ingredients, like garlic, or oregano, or red wine. This saucy building block lends itself to versatility. We are really excited about sharing recipes which use this chunky tomato concoction in future posts, but first things first. So, for now….the sauce!
Don’t make this sauce with tomatoes which are not ripe, and in fact, the riper, the better. Although you can, of course, make this sauce with tomatoes that you purchase, be sure that they are the sweetest, reddest, ripest tomatoes you can find. They will make all the difference.
The sauce requires that you peel and seed the tomatoes. Peeling tomatoes is relatively easy when they have soaked in very hot water (as described in the recipe). It is also pretty easy to remove the seeds of ripe tomatoes, either using a spoon, or squeezing the seeds out gently. Don’t spend all day removing seeds however; if a few of them (or hundreds of them) end up in your sauce…who really cares?
Truth be told, our parents don’t usually preserve this sauce the way that they do the other tomato sauce we shared with you, primarily because they tend to make smaller quantities that get used up pretty quickly. Still, we will describe the steps that you can take to ensure that this chunky tomato sauce is well preserved and safe. For more information however, you can consult some online resources devoted to canning (like here or here). We really recommend that you do some background reading if you are going to explore the world of canning.
We think that part of the reason that this sauce keeps so well in the refrigerator is because of the olive oil. The olive oil not only enhances the flavor of the tomato sauce, but it also acts to preserve the tomatoes by creating a barrier between the sauce and the air. For this reason, whenever you use a portion of the tomato sauce, be sure to top any leftovers with more olive oil, enough to cover the surface of the tomato sauce with at least 1/4 inch of oil.
As mentioned, this sauce is basic; our parents prepare it this way so that they can use it in a variety of dishes, in which they may flavor the tomato sauce differently. When making a roasted vegetable dish (coming up shortly!), they add garlic and rosemary to the tomato sauce. When they use it as a pasta sauce, they may add a little more basil. The possibilities are endless.
As you will read in the recipe, the end result you are looking for is a chunky tomato sauce. Here is a picture which illustrates the consistency you are looking for. The quantity will be must reduced from what you started with.
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- 3 500 ml large mason jars, with lids and bands
- 15 medium to large very ripe tomatoes (totalling 13 cups when chopped)
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp salt
- 6 fresh basil leaves
- 1 tbsp olive oil
For the assembly:
- 6 fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup olive oil (to be split between the 3 mason jars)
- Wash the tomatoes in hot water and then allow them to sit in a bowl filled with hot water for about 5 minutes. Remove the core, and score one end of the tomato with a sharp knife. Peel the skin off of the tomatoes.15 medium to large very ripe tomatoes (totalling 13 cups when chopped)
- Cut the peeled tomatoes in half. Carefully squeeze out as many seeds as you can. Don't worry if some seeds remain, it is not the end of the world. Then, using your hands, carefully squeeze out as much water as possible. Chop up your seeded and drained tomatoes into chunks. Place the chopped tomatoes into a large colander set over a large bowl or directly in the sink. Allow them to drain for at least 30 minutes.
- After your tomatoes have drained, add the vegetable oil and your tomatoes to a large pot. Add the salt and 6 fresh basil leaves. Stir well.1 cup vegetable oil, 1 tbsp salt, 6 fresh basil leaves
- Bring to a boil and then reduce to medium -high and cook, uncovered, for about one hour. Stir regularly. You will see that most of the water has evaporated and what you are left with is a thick, chunky sauce (seen in the pictures above). One way to know that your sauce is ready is that when the water has evaporated, you will see oil on the surface of the sauce, particularly near the edges of your pot.
- At this point, add one tablespoon olive oil to the sauce.1 tbsp olive oil
- You are now ready to fill your sterilized mason jars. Before filling the jars with the tomatoes, add 2 fresh basil leaves to each jar. Pour in enough sauce so that there is still about 1 inch of space between where the sauce end and where the screw top starts. Top the sauce (to the beginning of the screw top), with olive oil. Seal your jar.6 fresh basil leaves, 1/2 cup olive oil (to be split between the 3 mason jars)
- Allow your jars of sauce to cool completely and then store in the refrigerator.
- If you will not be using the sauce immediately, then you can preserve the jars by submerging them in a water bath and boiling them for 30 minutes. Remove from water bath and allow to cool completely. Store in a cool dry place until opened, at which point you will keep sauce in fridge.
- When you open a jar, and will returning the remaining sauce to the fridge it is important to pour in more olive oil to completely cover the surface of the sauce. This helps prevent spoilage.
- This sauce is used as a basis for other dishes, including roasted vegetables, and pasta
- The oil might congeal in fridge, this is fine!