Tomato Sauce Recipes
Fresh from the Garden
Exposure to Tomato Sauce Recipes started early in my life. I was involved in making Italian Tomato Sauce in varying degrees with my Grandparents, Mother, Aunts, Uncles and Cousins. all had unique differences in their recipes.
Ingredients were basicly the same, measurements differed slightly.
Ingredients combined with personal favorite pots & pans, heat, types of meat (if any), and recipe timing made for quite different results. Some sweet, some bold and some delicate.
Each of my relatives recipes combined with the right style pasta became their signature dish.
Fresh tomatoes were available four months of the year. Those that had canned some could make it to mid winter. Store bought canned tomatoes were the next choice. Everyone had their favorite canned tomatoes.
Regardless of fresh or canned tomatoes in the tomato sauce recipe, just about everyone thickened things up with one or two cans of tomato paste.
My Grandfather grew some very special roma tomatoes that were used like a paste to thicken and add flavor to my Grandmother's tomato sauce recipe.
Meat played a big part in almost all the recipes. The standards were meat balls and sausage. Beyond those were pork, in the form of ribs or other cuts, bracciolle which is a seasoned, rolled and tied steak, chicken or meats from wild game.
One of my all time favorites was my Mothers tomato sauce recipe with Quail breasts cooked to near disenegration.
One Aunt didn't use meat at all in her signature dish. She made a sweet and delicate shrimp tomato sauce recipe that was out of this world.
Those recipes were my lessons of how to make tomato sauce. I thought I knew it all, Until I got into the restaurant business.
I worked a half summer in the restaurant business before I actually got to cook.
My first duty was on the saute line. I was responsible for non-broiler main dishes, soups and side dishes.
The four top dishes from the saute side were Clam Chowder (only pre-made dish), oyster stew, shrimp scampi and a pasta side dish.
After a little training I was amazed how fast a dish could be created. I use the Scampi recipe to this day and it remains a crowd favorite. I wasn't a fan of the Oyster stew, but it sold really well.
The pasta side dish was equally as fast as the others and was a whole new experience. Remember, I lived my whole life believing a truly great sauce had to cook all day.
For those never exposed to working in a large restaurant kitchen, prep stations are setup hours before the doors open. Tubs of fresh garlic, onions, lettuce, cucumbers, mushrooms, parsley and more were ready to go.
Pasta was pre-boiled, then flash boiled before serving.
Our head Chef was a stickler for fresh ingredients. A vendor trying to bring sub-par produce would be thrown out.
The tomatoes I chopped for the sauce were the best vined rippened tomatoes available. The fresh pasta sauce was different than most tomato sauce recipes and went like this.
(First recipe) Add a couple of ounces of extra virgin olive oil to a saute pan on medium high heat, next a tablespoon of fresh chopped garlic, flip it until starts to brown.
Add a handful of chopped onions and a couple of flips, add salt, pepper and fresh chopped Italian herbs (parsley, oregano and basil), flip and add the chopped tomatoes, a couple of flips to mix and let cook until pasta is reheated in boiling water and drained.
Add pasta, flip to mix, dish it, garnish with parsley and ship it. That's the simplest of tomato sauce recipes. Next!
With everything prepped and waiting the whole drill takes about three or four minutes.
You have to understand this dish was the alternative to the vegetable medley or string beans and was only requested on about a third of the dinner orders.
The dynamics of all the barely cooked ingredients intriqued me. Fresh was good. A different good than a cooked all day sauce. Both had their merits.
It didn't take long for me to request permission to prep some of the ingredients a little differently.
The garlic was used in two recipes the Pasta Side Dish and the Shrimp Scampi. I felt both suffered from the flavor of nearly burnt garlic. The taste didn't match up with the other fresh ingredients.
Low heat prepping the garlic to a delicate softness I was able to crank up the heat on the Scampi. This allowed the shrimp to get a nice carmelized crisp edge.
While I was at it, I soft prepped the onions as well. The sauce was good but crunchy, under cooked onions made it seem like the dish was just thrown together, like it was. The Chef suggested just letting them cook a little longer, but with orders coming sometimes ten at once, time was of the essence.
I convinced him that using time in the prep stage was way easier than extending cooking time while under the gun.
After a couple requests for seconds and guests inquiring about the possibility of the pasta being ordered as a main dish, we realized we were on to something. And that was the birth of my garden fresh pasta sauce recipe.
I learned how to make my tomato sauce recipes a new way.
Since my days in the restaurant business I have tweeked my Garden Fresh Tomato sauce recipe. I now use it on it's own or as a springboard to other styles.
All versions start with the Trinity. Trinity is Extra Virgin Olive Oil, chopped garlic and chopped Onions
GARDEN FRESH TOMATO SAUCE RECIPE
In a large sauce pan on simmer-low heat add olive oil and garlic.
Saute until soft then add onions, continue until the onions start to soften, add the fresh herbs and cook until wilted.
Add Tomato Base and raise heat to medium. slowly stir and mix ingredients for a few minutes.
Raise heat to medium-high as it starts to bubble add the wine. raise heat to high for a couple of minutes until the wine is incorporated and alcohol has cooked down, reduce heat to low.
After temprature has come back down add grated cheese.
Add crushed red pepper then salt and pepper to taste.
If tomatoes are acidic add sugar if you like a sweet sauce.
If you don't want to alter the garden fresh feel, cut a carrot into four pieces (vetically and horizonally) and add to sauce. Remove after the sauce has cooked down.
This sauce will be ready after between an hour to an hour
and a half at low heat.
The consistancy of your base will determine how long to cook down. For thick sauce cook longer, for a wet sauce cook down less.
This sauce can be cooked all day as in more traditional Italian tomato sauce recipes. Serve over your favorite pasta.
6 medium cloves chopped Garlic
1 cup chopped onions (sweet or vidalia)
1 cup mixed garden herbs
8 cups - approx. 16 medium tomatoes chopped
1 cup of wine, white or red (see Variations)
1/2 cup of grated cheese, preferably Pecorino Romano
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper, 1 small red chile
Fine Sea Salt and ground Pepper to taste
VARIATIONS - Garden Fresh Tomato Sauce Recipe
HERBS - Oregano, Basil and Parsley are standard in most tomato sauce recipes.
I have discovered Cuban Oregano (the Large leaf herb in the photo) which has a pugnant oregano/sage taste. I prefer it over conventional oregano.
I also like Rosemary finely chopped in the mix. If you have an herb garden try different amounts of your favorites.
The standard three types should be dominant and I use them in equal amounts. If you don't grow your own, most supermarkets now have a fresh herb section. If none are available you can use dried versions of each, but while they will produce a great tasting sauce, in my opinion there is no substitute for fresh.
TOMATOES - Fresh tomatoes vary in taste and juiciness.
Plum or Roma tomatoes are common sauce tomatoes.
I like a little juicier or loose sauce that gets in the nooks and crannies better. I'm not talking about watery because a watery sauce will sit on the bottom of your pasta dish and won't stick to anything.
Many cooks and diners like a real thick sauce. If you are looking for that type consider adding tomato paste and cooking all day.
An alterantive to thicken things up a little. I like to Blanch, peel then grill roast tomatoes for my
Tomato Sauce Recipes Base.
It dries a wet tomato and gives a rich smokey flavor. My favorite.
WINE - Wine opens up the flavors. If your not a fan of using wine, the recipe will turn out fine without it.
As for Using red or white, I could give a real etheral reason of how white and red grapes interact differently creating an unusual bouquet, but that's bull. I use whatever wine I have leftover from the night before. Some are high end, some are low end.
A white wine does provide a lighter fresh taste. If your going with a thick all day type sauce, a deep red will match up better. Adding Wine to tomato sauce recipes will increase the complexity of the dish. Experiment with both and enjoy this ingredient while cooking!
GRATED CHEESE - A fine Pecorino Romano adds great taste and a little thickness to the sauce. You can use more or less as you like. Any fresh ground parmesean will work. The romano blends in really well.
A couple of warnings: the heat must come down to low before stirring in the cheese and stir in a little at a time. Grocery Store generic shelf grated cheese can turn your sauce into a disaster.
That stuff, depending on quality will congeal into one or more rubber balls at the bottom of your sauce. While that type cheese is voodoo in this tomato sauce recipe, It's Perfect for Tomato Pie recipe.
CRUSHED RED PEPPER - The 1/2 Teaspoon measurement is a little lower than what I really use. It should be just right for most.
The delicate of pallet can eliminate it totally if desired.
Adding more to your tomato sauce recipes will turn the sauce into a spicy Fra Dialvolo.
Want a great Sauce that's easy and fast to make? Try
Marinara Sauce Recipe.
It goes really well with this
Tomato Pie Recipe
Looking for more great tomato Recipes? Check the Everything Tomatoes