Monday, January 4, 2010

Homemade Tomato Sauce

Have you ever read the label on a jar of Ragu (or any other store bought tomato sauce)? I'll let you in on a little secret. They are all jam packed with sugar! Now, you might think that this sugar is just a product of the tomatoes, but nope, their ingredients list all contain sugar. This might not be a problem in your family, but in mine I'm trying to feed a diabetic, and I have always hated buying tomato sauce because I have to look through all the jars to find the one that has the least amount of sugar. They also contain a ton of other preservatives, salt, etc. that you wouldn't put in your own tomato sauce. But they are so easy, right? Well, as I have discovered recently so is making your own!

My two kitchen "bibles" (Bittman and America's Test Kitchen) tell you to make a Tomato Sauce in essentially the same way. Start out by heating a fat (olive oil or butter), add aromatics (like onion, red pepper flakes, and garlic), add a can of canned crushed tomatoes and then simmer! At the end you can add other aromatics if you have them on hand (like fresh basil, parsley, etc.).

Sounds easy right? That's because it is! The best part is that I bet I could find all these ingredients (except for maybe the canned tomatoes) in your kitchen right now! After I found and tried these two variations of the same recipe, I always make sure I have pasta and crushed tomatoes on hand for a quick and easy dinner. Tonight we are having the sauce with meatballs. I just add frozen meatballs after the tomatoes and let the sauce and meatballs simmer together. You might have to simmer for a total of 20 minutes to make sure the meatballs are completely heated through.

Here is Bittman's simple recipe:

3 tablespoons EVOO or butter
1 medium onion
1 1/2 - 2 pounds canned tomatoes (I buy crushed)
Salt and black pepper
Freshly grated cheese (optional)
Fresh parsley or basil (optional)
  1. Melt the butter or heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Once it is hot add the onion and cook until soft, 2-3 minutes. (Here is where I add garlic and let it just heat through until fragrant 30 seconds or so. If you want to add red pepper flakes you can also do that here.) Add tomatoes and a sprinkling of salt and pepper.
  2. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until mixture comes together. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add fresh herbs and grated cheese to the final dish or just before serving.
Of course, after this recipe Bittman has 20 variations that are also wonderful, but this will get you started! The options really are endless. Once you taste this sauce I'm sure you will also swear off store bought tomato sauce, even in a pinch!

1 comment:

Betsy said...

I love how my palate had adjusted to enjoying the taste of REAL food without the salt/sugar additives I was used to. You can make this sauce with garden tomatoes in the summer; just cook it a big longer. Mmmm...


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