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The ABC's of Tomato Sauce

Tomato sauce.  Mundane.  Outstanding.  Banal.  All words I have used to describe one of the most commonplace sauces in any cooks repertoire.  

To make a great tomato sauce the most important ingredient is the tomatoes.  If you don't start with great tomatoes it won't matter what you add to your sauce, it will not be very good.

Once you have your great tomatoes, you need to decide which type of tomato sauce you need.  I break tomato sauce into three different types.  Each amazing and delicious on their own and each serving different purposes.

The fastest and easiest is a fresh tomato sauce.  No cooking required.  This sauce has to be made with the absolute best tomatoes you can get your hands on.  This is a bright and refreshing sauce with chopped fresh tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil and garlic at it's core. From there you can add basil, capers, pinenuts, sun-dried tomatoes, some Balsamic vinegar......get creative.

Cook your pasta of choice, al dente, and toss the hot pasta with the fresh sauce and top with a little cheese and perhaps another lashing of extra virgin olive oil; summer in a bowl.

The second type of tomato sauce is a lightly cooked sauce.  It starts with sweating some onions and garlic in olive oil, adding some herbs and tomatoes and cooking for no more than 15 or 20 minutes.  Sweating the onions and briefly cooking the tomatoes brings a natural sweetness to this sauce.  Toss this with some sauteed shrimp and feta.  Or how about add some pancetta and chilies.  This is a go-to sauce for most recipes.

Lastly, there is the long simmering sauce.  This is the rich and unctuous tomato sauce with great depth of flavour and richness.  The longer cooking time melds together the flavours of the vegetables.  The extended cooking also produces a thicker sauce as the water cooks off.  This is the heavy hitter for rich meats like short ribs or mama's meatballs .  Just make sure when you are simmering this sauce you keep the heat low and stir the sauce often to keep it from catching on the bottom.

Buon Appetito!

Dana's blog