Thursday, June 26, 2014

Fresh tomato sauce

This is a dish to be made in the summer with super fresh sun ripened tomatoes bursting with flavor. The fresher the better so get picking or get to a farmers market. I went to Gilcrease Orchard to pick my tomatoes, most people in Las Vegas don't even know about it which is a shame but hey more tomatoes for me.

 These are about half of their tomato plants.

You need 3 - 3 1/2 pounds of tomatoes, people usually use romas but I used these and they were great.

I got my onion and garlic from there too:

Fill a large pot with water, I used a 4 quart size, then put it on the stove set to high and bring it to a boil. Cut an X in to the bottoms of all of the tomatoes ( I somehow always manage to forget one so double check ) while the water is still waiting to boil get an ice bath for the tomatoes together.

 Shoo Beans, shoo.

 After the water is at a rolling boil you can start putting your tomatoes in. I did mine in two parts for 30 seconds each.  Once they've been in the ice bath they should be very easy to peel, peel all of your tomatoes.

Get a bowl with a strainer over it. Cut your tomatoes in half for romas or quarters for round tomatoes and and seed them over the bowl so the bowl catches all the juice but the strainer keeps the seeds out. 

Cut a medium onion in half and then dice one half, dump the tomato water and cook the onions in that pot on medium/high with 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Cook until translucent, it's against my religion to have a tomato sauce with no onions. Add the tomatoes, put in 1 teaspoon kosher salt.

As soon as they get a bit bubbly around the edges mush them with a potato masher. I like my sauce pretty smooth so I mashed away. Once it has started boiling turn it down to low and simmer for 45 minutes. If the tomatoes still aren't at your desired texture for the sauce feel free to keep on mashing.

About 25 minutes in to the 45 minute simmer period for the sauce get a small pot, 1/4 cup of olive oil, a thinly sliced clove of garlic, a small handful of basil leaves and a pinch of red pepper flakes combine and put on stove on very, very low. We want this to cook very slowly so the flavors seep in to the olive oil. Once it comes to a simmer take it off the heat.

You want to start your pasta water about now unless you have one of those amazing instant boil things on your stove, I feel like I wait around half my life waiting for pasta water to boil. We're going to want to reserve the pasta water for the sauce. How much pasta you want to cook is up to you, do you like your pasta swimming in sauce or do you like it to be just coated?

When the timer for the sauce goes off strain the olive oil mixture and put the olive oil in to the sauce, stir until it's completely combined. Taste your sauce, to me it needed a little something so I added in a few twists of a black pepper grinder on fine.

You should cook your pasta to almost al dente.  Get a large skillet out and ladle how much sauce you want in to the pan, a small ladle full of the reserved pasta water  and finally your spaghetti. Use tongs to stir and and cook it on medium until the pasta water and sauce have combined, the pasta water will help the sauce stick to your pasta better. Add in your tablespoon of SALTED, yes salted butter now. Cook until the butter has melted completely.

                                                 Now you can plate and garnish with fresh basil.

I was worried that adding that much olive oil that late in the game would make it oily, but no it made it glossy and velvety to the tongue. I tasted it and my immediate thought was "this is special" It's so complex but so very simple at the same time. It tastes fresh but there are layers of flavor there that are mind blowing in their simplicity.

                                     Fresh, simple, perfect. Now for some glamor shots.

                                        Happy cooking, hope you all are having a great summer!

Inspired by Scott Conant ( aka the cute Italian guy from Chopped ) Scarpetta's Tomato and Basil


  1. Man, I'm not usually a fan of tomatoey and basil sauces, but that looks delicious, and all the flavours sound amazing. How great that you can go and pick your own so easily too!

  2. It was fantastic, it was so fresh, I'm so used to using canned tomatoes I never realized how fresh tasting a tomato sauce could be.

    I know, I love that place. The people who run it are amazing, all the work they do and they sell at such cheap prices. I'd rather support them than Whole Paycheck any day.

  3. What kind of camera do you use? Your pictures are amazing.

    1. I used my Nikon D90 with my 50mm f/1.8 lens, that's a great but inexpensive lens. It's very quick and sharp. Thank you very much. :)