We have had one of those very chilled out, gentle days where everyone has been in the same room doing different things and generally allowing time to just waft. I love these days.
And it is on days such as these that I tend to do my catch up cooking. Today I am making some hummus, roasting some peppers and cooking a large pot of my all purpose tomato sauce.
The thing about this tomato sauce is that, although it takes a while to make, once it’s done you can use it as a base for anything in the Italian food range, from pizza to lasagne, bolognese to cannelloni, or just as a sauce in itself, to cover spaghetti or another form of pasta. It’s perfect. Well, perfect for our family. Some people get stuff in for the freezer, I make tomato sauce.
So, what I do is finely chop an onion, a few carrots, a couple of sticks of celery and a few cloves of garlic. Pop in a pan with a generous portion of ordinary olive oil, add some salt and pepper, put the lid on and allow it to all saute, very gently, into itself. I would say if you leave it on a very low heat, keeping your eye on it, everything will be wonderfully soft within around 45 minutes.
Once the vegetable base is softened, chop up 9 or 10 large tomatoes and add to the pot. Squeeze a good splodge of tomato puree in there and sprinkle a teaspoon or two of oregano depending on how strong you like the flavour to come through.
The next couple of ingredients are both a confession and a statement in my defence. You see you can’t truly make a good tomato sauce unless you put in red wine and sugar. I have to admit to having had a splosh of red wine in a bottle sitting next to my oven for about two weeks, waiting for exactly this type of day to arrive. Sadly, to my shame, I have not been able to resist putting in a teaspoonful of sugar to accompany the wine, and enhance the flavour of the tomato. However, my logic follows that of bread making. You cannot possible make bread without adding some sweetness as it is a catalyst to the yeast. Similarly, with home made tomato sauce, I believe it to be imperative in order to allow the tomatoes to shine, that sugar is added. It’s only the tiniest bit…
And on the subject of sugar, I’m not sure whether I am going through a sugar delirium having not had any for 10 days now, but everything is starting to taste sweet. Is that what normally occurs?
Anyway, allow everything to simmer in the pot with the lid on, for another 20 – 30 minutes or until you think everything is cooked. Turn the heat off and let it all sit in itself for a while.
At this juncture I would suggest you make a cup of tea, perhaps have a slice of cake, and put your feet up.
When the tomato sauce has cooled down you can either whizz it up in a blender, leave it chunky, or, as I do, split it and do half and half.
Whatever you decide to do with your sauce, when it’s cooled pop it in a tupperware box, an old large greek yoghurt pot, ice cream pot or whatever has a lid, and either store it in the fridge or separate into small meal sized portions and freeze.
I tell you what, if it does nothing else, it will make you feel very organised and together when you next need an Italian tomato sauce.