Saturday, September 25, 2010

Fresh Tomato Sauce That Doesn't Smell Like Chicken

My first attempt at making homemade tomato sauce, to say the least, was a disaster. When you’ve been slaving all day in the kitchen and at first smell your husband asks, “Why does the tomato sauce smell like chicken stew?” You know you have a problem. My first mistake was I used a tomato sauce recipe from a culinary book that was ridiculously complicated. Two more mistakes – 1) I didn’t de-skin (blanch) the tomatoes 2) The recipe called for chicken stock, and I don’t make good chicken stock (not yet at least). On top of that, it was the same night as the infamous “Pasta without a Pasta Machine” debacle. My husband has since requested that I learn only one new technique per dinner service. Ha! I don’t blame him.

Second time around was a world of difference – astonishing, a spiritual experience. I purchased pasta from the grocery store and decided to focus only on making an amazing tomato sauce. To come up with my recipe I perused a number of You Tube videos and read a less complicated culinary recipe. I decided to tackle the tomato sauce with these few ingredients and techniques:

6 Tomatoes (I would use more tomatoes next time)
1 large slice of White Onion (diced)
1 carrot (peeled and diced)
2 Cloves Fresh Garlic (pressed or mashed)
2-3 TBS Olive Oil
1-2 TBS Butter (unsalted)
3 Leaves of Fresh Basil
Salt, Pepper & Dried Oregano to taste

The first thing I did was blanch the tomatoes. When you blanch a tomato, you cut a small slit in side of the raw tomato, drop it in boiling water for a minute (till the skin starts to peel), then you drop the tomato in icy cold water and the skin should peel right off. See image below. After blanching I then cored and partially de-seeded the tomatoes and set them aside.

My next step was to cook everything in my fry pan. I heated the oil and butter, then sautéed the white onion and carrot until the onion was translucent. During the sauté process I pressed two cloves of garlic into the onion and carrot mixture. I sautéed for 3-4 minutes.

I then added the tomatoes into the pan and broke them up. After the tomatoes were added, I sliced up the Basil and tossed that into the tomato mixture. I seasoned with a dash of salt, pepper and dried oregano. Isn’t it beautiful?!?

And then I waited, and waited and waited. I simmered on medium-low for 40 or so minutes without the lid on the fry pan. The goal now is to reduce the water content so it becomes sauce-like. Once the sauce was to my desired consistency, I put a lid on it and made the noodles.
I served the fresh tomato sauce on top of spaghetti noodles with fresh grated parmesan.

I have to say, this is probably the best tomato sauce I’ve ever had. It was fresh, simple and reminded me of tomato sauce from Italy. I should have doubled the recipe because my husband and I were dying for more after we finished our plates. Delish!


  1. I love your site! It looks so professional. And I can tell you are doing some great things with food styling. very impressive :)

  2. This sounds delicious! Simple seems to always work best. Can't wait to try this! Your site looks great!!

  3. My first tomato sauce was actually Martha Stewart's recipe which has star anise and so many different ingredients that I was so fascinated I made it right away. I didn't dislike it. Infact I almost liked it but I thought it was too complex a flavor. Then I just went wid my heart use the same recipe as above minus the carrots and I add basil towards the end. And I'm in love with myself ever since :). I'm loving it here! Thanks for the follow on twitter.

  4. This sauce sounds/looks great. I've never made a stock based tomato sauce before, I always just make ginormous amounts of roasted tomato sauce (SO good!) and freeze it. Works like a charm every time! Would love to try your method some time though!

  5. I know you are a "self trained chef" but we had to learn to make classic tomato sauce by heart in culinary school. It was stressful to say the least. I couldn't look tomato sauce for about a year.
    I love using heirloom tomatoes (I got over the sauce overload now that I'm a few years out of culinary school).