Ditch the Jar: Make Fresh Tomato Sauce

September 2, 2011

Jarred tomato sauce, no matter how homey the label or how many “organic” marketing clichés are thrown at us, will never equal or replace fresh sauce. Period. Just ask a Roman, Neapolitan or Sicilian. They should know since tomato sauce put southern Italy on the culinary map.

Most of us refer to tomato sauce as marinara without really knowing what that word means. It comes from mare meaning sea and a marinaio means seaman. How did tomato sauce wind up being called marinara? Because on long voyages at sea, sailors could make a quick tomato sauce. Naturally, it is simple to make — especially now when plum tomatoes are in season to make true and wonderful tasting tomato sauce just like southern Italians have been doing for generations. Just remember to start with ripe plum tomatoes; they are meaty and pulpy.

You will notice that the recipe does not call for many ingredients, no carrot, onion or gastly dried herbs. The star is the tomato. Its clean, sweet flavor should shine through. Once you make fresh tomato sauce, you will no doubt sweep away those jars of commercially prepared so-called tomato sauce, full of additives and artificial flavors. You deserve better.

Fresh Tomato Sauce

Makes 1 quart

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
5 cloves garlic peeled and cut in half lengthwise
5 pounds (about 20 medium) ripe plum tomatoes, washed, cored and cut into chunks
1 tablespoon sugar
Fine sea salt to taste
½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
1 small bunch fresh basil, leaves only

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and add the garlic. Cook over medium heat until it begins to turn golden brown and smell fragrant.

Add the tomatoes, sugar, salt, pepper and basil. Stir the ingredients to blend well.

Cook the sauce over medium heat uncovered for about 20 minutes or until it begins thicken.

Transfer the sauce to a food mill and sieve out the seeds and skins.

Sauce is ready to use or freeze.

marinara tomato sauce in a jar

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