This Fresh Tomato Sauce makes the most of summer’s bounty! Learn how to make a simple, aromatic sauce you can use countless delicious ways.
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What do you do with 5 pounds of tomatoes? I like BLTs but a sandwich now and then is not a productive way to use up all the ripe tomatoes that are in season right now. I got a really big bunch yesterday from my local farmer’s market and since I’ll be going away on vacation in just a week, I had to do something to preserve them right away. I’m in an Italian state of mind, so guess what I did?
Italians like canned tomatoes. They argue that you can hardly get better tomatoes than canned San Marzano, picked at their ripest and preserved in a matter of hours. It is indeed a great way to enjoy the fresh taste of tomatoes year round. However, when tomatoes are in season, it is a bit of a sin to think of using their canned counterparts (even Italians will agree). Of course, you have to gather the courage to peel your tomatoes, chop them up and cook the sauce for a while, but once you’re done, you realize it was much quicker and painless than you remembered. And that the vivacious taste of a fresh tomato sauce is incomparable.
It’s much easier than you think. Bring a big pot of water to a boil. Slice a shallow “X” on the bottom of each tomato. Plunge them in the boiling water until you see their skin roll back, 10 to 15 seconds. Fish them out: you’ll see that your tomatoes are ready to undress without much help. You’re done!
Slice a shallow “X” on the bottom of each tomato.
Tomatoes, after 10-15 seconds in boiling water: ready to undress!
5 pounds of fresh and peeled garden tomatoes.
Peeled tomatoes, coarsely chopped.
Thick-fleshed and not-so-juicy varieties, like Romas, San Marzanos and other plum-shaped varieties make the best sauces because they contain less water, thus take less time to cook. You can use any variety; if you choose plum and juicy tomatoes, you’ll just have to let your sauce simmer longer.
Humble (but very tasty!) garden tomatoes.
A very basic fresh tomato sauce is seasoned solely with salt and pepper. From there, you can add onion, herbs, garlic or red pepper flakes.
Optional fresh tomato sauce seasonings: onion, garlic, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, fresh basil.
Because this sauce has a very fresh and bright taste, I wouldn’t weight it down by adding ground meat in it. I use it on pizzas, on croutons topped with torn fresh mozzarella to make a simple bruschetta, as a dip, or in simple pasta dishes:
This is my favorite way to make a fresh tomato sauce. When I first made it, I turned to my vegetarian bible, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison, for basic guidance and then built my own version. I love it with all the flavorings because, that way, I think it’s ready for use in a variety of ways (see above). I even stray from tradition by using a bit of white wine to deglaze my pan after the onion, garlic and red pepper flakes have cooked together. I find it deepens the flavors and mellows the fresh (and sometimes acidic) tomato taste.
Some people will argue that adding fresh basil to a hot sauce isn’t a good idea. Basil is a delicate taste and it must be added to the sauce at the right moment. Freezing and high heat will kill the basil’s flavor. If you plan to freeze your sauce, don’t add basil at all. Remember to always add it right before serving, when the sauce is hot but off the heat. That way, the basil will delicately infuse the sauce with its flavor and you’ll be able to taste it.
Tell me how you liked it! Leave a comment or take a picture and tag it with @foodnouveau on Instagram.
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