The thing is, while commercial tomato sauce may cut down the cooking time, you also cut down on a lot of things.
- You pass off on the option to make a smooth or a chunky tomato sauce (yes, you have that choice!).
- You hand over to the tomato sauce manufacturer the freedom to determine how tomato sauce should be seasoned (there is only so much adjustment you can make with commercial tomato sauce).
- Most significantly, you give the manufacturer the right to put additives and artificial ingredients into your body.
It’s not difficult tomato sauce, really. If you can boil, chop and stir, you can make tomato sauce.
You start by blanching the tomatoes to loosen the skin so they can easily peeled off.
The peeled tomatoes are then pureed. In traditional Italian cooking, a food mill is used to smash the tomato pulp into a watery paste. A blender or an immersion blender is not traditional but does the work well too.
Next comes the spices — onion, garlic and oregano which all need to be cut into small pieces.
Now, the cooking starts. Olive oil. Not extra virgin which is too bitter but just olive oil. The onion, garlic and oregano go into the hot olive oil where they are sauteed until softened and highly aromatic.
The pureed tomatoes are poured in, salt and pepper (and sugar for balance) are sprinkled in and everything is left to simmer until thick. And that’s it.
- Boil plenty of water in a pot. When the water is boiling briskly, add the tomatoes (see notes after the recipe).
- Cook in boiling water until the skins burst, about one to two minutes depending on the ripeness of your tomatoes.
- Cool the tomatoes a bit and peel off the skins.
- Place the skinless tomatoes in the blender (or use an immersion blender) and process to your desired chunkiness (you may also do this by hand; I prefer the blender because I don’t lose any of the juices that way).
- Heat the olive oil in a pan or pot.
- Over medium low heat, saute the chopped onion until translucent (you want the onion to sweat rather than brown so keep the heat down).
- Crush and peel the garlic.
- Add the garlic and oregano to the onion. Cook, stirring, for about a minute.
- Pour in the pureed tomatoes.
- Season with salt and pepper. Stir.
- Add a bit of sugar to cut down the acidity of the tomatoes.
- If the tomato sauce doesn't look as red as you want it, add paprika now — half a teaspoonful at a time until you're happy with the color.
- Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
- And you have your homemade tomato sauce.