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homemade tomato sauce - what do YOU do?

I make it different all the time - I have a large pot on the stovetop now - started with tons of onions and garlic in olive oil/canola mix - then added two large (6lbs) cans of marzano plum tomatoes. I have used my knife in the pot, cutting the tomatoes open. Oh, and I have already added salt and pepper. I will add, later on, a good dose of dried parsley , basil, oregano. (I know - dried is not usually an acceptable word) And I usually will add, depending on the flavor and consistency, a small can, or in this case two, of tomato paste.

Do you blend yours after this? I usually don't. Wondering how many do. I am using this sauce for hopefully many containers for the freezer, after taking what I will need off for a lasagna and sauce for the meat/turkey layer of the lasagna.

I am also wondering how long you cook this?

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  1. The only sauce I make in large quantities is Bugialli's Bolognese since it is a lot of work, but little extra work to make twice as much. The whole cooking process is a couple of hours. For everyday tomato sauce, since there are just two of us I make it regularly and that's enough. Start with a can of good tomatoes, I like Trader Joe's whole plum tomatoes, olive oil and garlic. Sometimes I just hand crush the tomatoes (removing stem area), other times I put them through the food mill. Cooking is simple. Slice a couple large cloves of garlic very thin (I use a garlic slicer/mandolin) and saute until golden in saute pan with a glug of olive oil. Immediately add tomatoes--look out for spitting--and bring to boil. Add s&p and let reduce for a bit, putting lid on once it's thickened. From there anything goes as far as other ingredients. As is, it's right for eggplant parmesan (I'm making that tonight with eggplant broiled not fried), pizza sauce or sauce for meatless lasagna or tossed with spaghetti, fresh basil and olive oil with a cloud of Parmigiano Reggiano.

    2 Replies
    1. re: escondido123

      so - you use the food mill before cooking - I am thinking this time - I WILL use the food mill, don't always, because there is an abundance of tomatoes breaking down in that pot.

      1. re: smilingal

        My husband likes to mill them, I like them chunky so we trade off. I also just tried skinning tomatoes by holding them over the gas flame with tongs and then rotating it once to get the other two sides. Only had to do 3 of them so it was much quicker than blanching them.

    2. I have blended tomatoes in a sauce before for a specific effect, but 9 times out of 10 i just give them a rough chop before cooking (if I'm using fresh tomatoes), and then thoroughly crush them in the pot (whether I'm using fresh or canned) using a potato masher. Thickens the sauce well but leaves a nice rustic chunkiness to it. Obviously, if you go this route, you have to make sure you sweat the onions until they're soft before adding the other ingredients for the sauce.

      Food mill is a fine option for a more evenly textured sauce if you want.

      1. I decided to leave them in their natural well-broken down state. Today I realized the difference the canned tomato makes - I used one can of DOP marzano and the other a plum tomato from marzano area - using these two quality cans gave a thicker and non-acidic sauce - avoiding the addition of tomato paste and sugar. Quite tasty - if I do say so myself!

        1. I personally am not a big fan of "chunky" style red pasta sauces, so I divide mine into "sunday gravy' style and "marinara" style.

          Sunday gravy I use tomato paste, garlic, tomato sauce or tomato puree, a half onion that is removed when cooking is done, various spices, red wine, a few other things and then browned meatballs, sausage and pork ribs or pork chops.

          For marina (which for me means fresher tasting and shorter cook time), I usually use a whole can of san marzanos and zip them down in the food processor or blender until just lightly chunky, olive oil, pinch of tomato paste, anchovies, red wine, spices and grated onion plus other things at hand. I usually add ground and fried crumbled italian sausage and some black olives which is why i mill/puree prior to cooking otherwise everything would become a big smoothie. LOL. I use boxed or can pureed if I want easy and smooth,

          Short cook time marinara usually means adding fresh basil and maybe capers and usually no meat but sauteed mushrooms and onions instead.

          About once a month I pick up a new jarred or canned pasta sauce to try, and I keep going back to making it myself due to taste and I can add what I want when I want to. By the time I get jarred sauce to my liking it takes just as long as DIY but is twice the cost. Win-win.

          1. I often blend, but my mom would probably say "that's why they invented food mills".

            1. I cook the sauce for a couple of hours and then smooth it out with a stick blender before I correct the seasonings and add the fresh basil and parsley.

              1. How timely. I'm making mine tonight. I start with olive oil and the carrot/onion/celery mirepoix (much heavier on the onions than the carrots and celery) in a dice. Let it soften for about 8-10 min. Add garlic - how ever much you like and maybe some shallot if I have one. A little kosher salt, fresh thyme or herbs de provence, and a good couple of shakes of red pepper flakes (my husband and I like it a little spicy). Let it sauté on medium to lowish heat for a while, careful not to burn garlic. I add some vermouth (dry) - let it cook off. I add canned Marzano tomatoes whole and then use kitchen shears to snip them into chunks right in the pot. Several grinds of black pepper. Done. I don't blend - like it chunky.

                1. Made some the other night, the same way my grandmother made it………

                  Start by uncasing 3-4 sausages and crumbling them into some hot olive oil, let them brown, add in the whole sausages, then the spare ribs…….a little fresh oregano and basil, let them brown with the cover off for a while, then add in chopped onion and fresh garlic along with S&P. Cover. Let cook until the onions and garlic have begun to reach translucent. Then add in equal cans of puree and crushed tomatoes plus one large can of paste. Toss in more fresh basil, oregano and some fresh parsley and let simmer for hours.

                  I let it cool and sit overnight. Had it last night and it was outstanding.

                    1. re: ChiliDude

                      chilidude - thanks for that video! Fabio was always a favorite!

                    2. I usually use onions, bell peppers and garlic. I use either canned peeled tomatoes or tomatoes from the garden and chop them. I usually don't add the juice from the tomatoes until later, but I normally add a cup or so of red wine. Spices - bay leaves, oregano, maybe basil. Herbs - fresh chopped parsley. At the end, maybe some fresh basil if I have it. I do not normally blend it and I freeze it Oh, I might add red wine right after I add the tomatoes.

                      If I make bolognese sauce, I follow Anne Burrell's of Food Network's recipe except I use tomatoes and no tomato paste.

                      I normally cook my sauces for a long time. I'm not sure maybe 2 hours or more? Although once in awhile I also do a quick tomato sauce for that fresh taste.

                      1. For a simple tomato sauce, I either used home canned San Marzano or fresh from the garden San Marzanos. Give them a Quick blanch, peel and de-seed them. Half get a rough chop, the other half get hand crushed.

                        Heat up some olive oil, toss in a clove or 2 of garlic and some fresh peperoncino. Discard the garlic and toss in the tomatoes with a handful of fresh basil, some salt, and a pinch on marjorum. Let the water evaporate a bit and reduce.

                        If I do notice some larger lumps from the cores that aren't breaking down or more seeds than I like, I'll pass it through a food mill if needed. I would NOT blend it or hit it with a stick blender simply because if there are enough seeds, it can turn the sauce bitter.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Novelli

                          Here's some nice fresh pics!

                        2. I use a recipe popular on the Dave's Garden website:

                          Bluekat76's Recipe for Roasted Tomato Sauce
                          4 pounds tomatoes, stemmed and quartered
                          1 large red onion (or 2-3 small), roughly chopped.
                          (OK to substitute yellow or other onions)
                          2 Jalepeno peppers (remove seeds for less heat)
                          16 cloves fresh garlic
                          1/4 C Extra Virgin Olive oil
                          1 Tbs dry oregano
                          (or a bunch of fresh oregano & basil)
                          Combine ingredients in a 9x13 inch pan.
                          Roast at 450°F for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until juices get thick.
                          Tomatoes will get a bit blackened and will smell wonderful.
                          Let cool, and run through a food mill to remove skins & seeds.
                          The resulting puree will be nice & thick; no need to reduce.
                          Season to taste with salt and pepper.

                          1. We make two at our house. One quick, one that takes more time. Both are wonderful.

                            THE SIMPLE:

                            Warm a couple of glugs of Olive Oil over medium heat

                            Add one medium onion chopped - I like it chopped fine for a smoother sauce but chop however you like the dice in a tomato sauce

                            After about 5 minutes, add 3 cloves of garlic chopped. Saute a few more minutes.

                            Add a 28 oz can of crushed San Marzano tomatoes. Stir.

                            Add either a bundle of herbs, tied... or just add a lot of thyme and rosemary leaves (I tend to do it this way). I also like to add a little cracked red pepper flakes. (Chopped basil is also terrific)

                            Cook it down, stirring every couple of minutes, for at least 15 minutes. 30 minutes will make it thicker.

                            Add a pad or two of butter at the end to give it a rich, even silkier taste.

                            Use as pizza sauce, or toss with fresh pasta... it freezes beautifully as well.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Tom P

                              A LONGER SIMMERING SAUCE

                              heat two or three glugs of olive oil.

                              Add 5 cloves garlic chopped. Saute a minute or so but don’t let it brown. Then:

                              Add a glug or two of red wine with salt and pepper. Stir and simmer down a little bit.

                              Add a little more wine and a few hits of balsamic vinegar, almost making like a salad dressing.

                              Cook down, stirring, a few more minutes.

                              Add 5 -8 chopped, fresh large tomatoes and let it cook way down, stirring occasionally.

                              As it cooks down, add a little sugar (2 T max) and some oregano.

                              Let this slowly simmer an hour. It is wonderful.

                            2. Just remember if you cook your tomato sauce longer than 20 minutes the tomatoes become quite acidic. That’s when you add a little sugar. The tomato sauce I make for pizza, quick pasta dishes and risotto takes just 20 minutes to make. I call it a fresh tomato sauce even though I use canned tomatoes.

                              FRESH TOMATO SAUCE

                              2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

                              2 fat garlic cloves, minced

                              chopped fresh red chili pepper or hot red pepper flakes to taste

                              2 cups canned whole Italian tomatoes (roughly chop these. Whole peeled Italian tomatoes are a better quality than chopped canned tomatoes. Hey, you can chop.)

                              Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

                              Add the garlic and chili pepper to a generous sized skillet with a little olive oil, and stir quickly once or twice. Saute the garlic over medium heat for just a couple of minutes. Now add the chopped canned tomatoes and all their juices, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes and the juices have thickened, 4 to 6 minutes. Using a large skillet allows the tomato mixture to thicken quickly. This is what I do. I freeze it in portion sized containers and it is always ready to add to risotto, pizza or pasta.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: MrsButterfingers

                                MrsButterfingers, I hadn't heard that tomatoes become acidic after cooking for 20 minutes. Do you know the reason for that? I usually cook my sauce for more than 20 minutes, and yes, I have to add sugar. I haven't tried the quicker cooking method.

                              2. I'm running out and will soon be making another batch, but am debating what to do with the canned tomato juice (whole peeled). On the one hand it'd make sense to reduce it for the extra flavor, but on the other it has so many other applications and saving it for them would also result in a thicker sauce.

                                So, should I use everything in the can for the sauce or just the tomatoes and leave out the juice?

                                1 Reply
                                1. Definitely plenty of onion and garlic, sweated in olive oil along with the dried oregano and usually thyme--there are a lot of fat-soluble flavor compounds in those herbs, so I like to include them in the sweating stage. Then in go the marzano tomatoes with a glug of red wine and a handful of minced fresh parsley--some dried herbs are fine with me, obviously, but the parsley has to be fresh. Also, one of the parm rinds that I keep in the freezer--that really turns it up to 11. Yum!

                                  I do usually blend a little, but not until completely smooth. This is my basic tomato sauce that can be improvised upon. Sometimes I add a chiffonade of fresh basil at the end, sometimes capers, sometimes some anchovy fillets at the beginning if I want to make it more of a puttanesca, sauteed mushrooms...the possibilities are endless.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. I make my tomato sauce the way my mother did -- very simply. Finely chop a couple of cloves of garlic, add tomatoes that have been pureed (I use my stick blender right in the can), saute the garlic briefly in some olive oil, and throw in the tomatoes. Add some coarse salt, and simmer. If you're making a meat sauce, add the sautéed meatballs, sausage and sauce meat, and cook. That's it, and it's always delicious. I do not add onions because I feel it makes the sauce too sweet and I do not care for the texture. I will, of course, add onions when making a Matriciana or another specific sauce that calls for onions. I also use this sauce as the base for Putanesca or a host of other tomato based sauces. IMO, everything else is an unnecessary taste complication.