Food: Best Freaking Tomato Sauce

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In the very first cooking class I attended from Tom (he’s the best!) he taught us how to make a rustic tomato sauce. It’s my go-to. I don’t buy store bought anymore. Best of all, no can opener required. I’ve never been a huge fan of the overly-acidic, dump-all-your-food-storage-into-a-pot sauces. They don’t taste like a real tomato grown on a vine. This sauce does. And you don’t have to make it at the height of growing season, either. I can make mine in the middle of winter with 72″ of snow piling in our front yard.

The secret is in the type of tomatoes. Regular cherry tomatoes work fabulously. If you happen to find yourself near a Trader Joe’s, stock up on ALL of their mini tomatoes, especially their Villagio Marzano tomatoes! OMG, so good just plain.
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This recipe may feel like it’s more work than the typical recipe that calls for cans and Italian seasoning, but this gets more of a rustic, home-grown tomato taste rather than a canned taste. It’s just so. much. better.

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RUSTIC TOMATO SAUCE

Adapted from Food Made By Tom | Makes 2-3 cups
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbs salted butter
  • 1/3 cup coarsely sliced onion
  • 2 cartons grape tomatoes*
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock or broth
  • kosher salt to taste

Peel garlic and coarsely chop. Turn on the stove to medium high heat. Add butter, garlic and onion.

While the onion and garlic are simmering, slice all of your tomatoes in half. Dump tomatoes into the pot once the onions and garlic is aromatic (until onion goes clear, you can go until it browns a little if you’d like). Cover and cook for 30-40 minutes. Check in on it and stir about once every 5 minutes.

You’ll want the bottom of the medium sauce pan to burn just slightly so you get a roasted flavor in there. Timing depends upon how juicy your tomatoes are. Add salt and pepper. Add broth. I eyeball it. Uncover the sauce and reduce at medium-high heat.

At this point you could just remove from heat and put on pizza dough as a rustic pizza sauce. My kids don’t much care for the larger skins, so I’ll allow the mixture to cool and blend it with my immersion blender or I’ll put it in the blender and puree. Garnish with fresh basil.

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The above image is when it’s about half-way done. You’ll want a soupier consistency. It’ll start bubbling and burning slightly on the bottom. The charred bottom adds a lot of flavor, as if you roasted the tomatoes in an oven. You can add broth or stock to the sauce or leave as-is. It just depends upon how thick you want your sauce to be and how much time you have to let it reduce. If I have time, I’ll add broth and let it reduce a couple of times so the flavor is concentrated. My best batches tend to be the ones I forget about because I get caught up with the drama of after-school studies or who gets the iPad. It’s best to cook at medium to medium/high heat. I tend to go medium/high heat because we’re at altitude. Things take FOREVER to cook otherwise.

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So this may not be a hard-and-fast recipe, it’s more recipe theory and based on “Looks”, so I hope it’ll be as good for you as it has been for our family.

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    1. Kristin H says:

      That looks amazeballs. My hubby actually prefers the pantry type, complete with ground beef. It’s a struggle to be the only foodie in the house…

      • Melissa says:

        Hahah! That would be a struggle. Currently we’re trying to brainwash Penelope that she’s a foodie. It’s sixes right now on if it’s actually working or not.

    2. Heidi says:

      This looks like the perfect recipe to wake up January tastebuds!

    3. Katie says:

      Officially can’t wait to try this! Looks and sounds delicious! Thanks!

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