Every cook should have their own tomato sauce recipe. One that suits their family's tastes and needs. You make it to serve stirred through spaghetti, to form the base on a pizza, add to stews or ladle over meatballs. It should be a simple sauce made with just a few ingredients, it should be possible to replicate it during the winter months - not wait for the full ripe summer tomato, and it should be 'good enough' to use on it's own - not needing additions of grated cheeses, minced meats or shellfish......and as the Italian chef Marcella Hazan put it "No other preparation is more successful in delivering the prodigious satisfactions of Italian cooking than a competently executed sauce with tomatoes."
So this is my family recipe, the one I've been making for 30 years. It's been tweaked over that time, but essentially it's still the same and over the years I must have made it hundreds of times and never once has it let me down!
800g chopped tomatoes - in winter that's x2 400g can, in summer 1 can plus 400g freshly chopped tomato
4 large plump cloves garlic - lightly flattened with a knife blade
1 stick celery
3 bay leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
a large pinch chilli flakes
a large pinch sea salt
a little sugar if the tomatoes are not sweet enough - optional - which I only ever add if my Dad is eating with us!
(If your using fresh tomatoes you will need to peel, de-seed and core them before chopping - that's why I usually use canned, unless I have a bowl of really good, full flavoured, fresh tomatoes and the time, the inclination and love to devote to the sauce)
Place the olive oil, garlic and onion in a deep saucepan and cook over a low to medium heat until the onions have softened. You don't want to burn or colour the garlic so keep the heat low. Stir occasionally - this fragrant scent of hot olive oil, garlic and onion is one of my favourite smells of the kitchen - to me it means good food is on it's way!
Once the onions have softened and taken on a shiny opaque look add the chilli flakes and let them cook for a minute or so before adding the tomatoes. (If you see any hard lumps of core in the tinned tomatoes remove them) Add the bay leaves, and the whole stem of celery. Turn up the heat a little to get the sauce to a simmer - not a boil. Now leave it to gently cook away for at least 45 minutes to a hour. You can leave it to cook for longer if you wish, but I find a hour is fine. The more time you can give it to cook the more mature and rich the tomato flavour will become. Whilst it's cooking the garlic and onions will melt into the sauce. Stir frequently whilst cooking just to check it's not catching at the bottom of the pan.
Allow to cool slightly, remove the stick of celery and discard. Taste and add your salt - if it's needed add a little sugar for a sweeter sauce.
If your not using the sauce straight away, spoon into jars and it will keep in the fridge for about 4 or 5 days. It also freezes well but I like to make a fresh sauce each time.
Here's a printable
Have a great day