Yield: 3-4 cups sauce
- 2 lbs. fresh farm-ripe tomatoes (dry farmed Early Girls, or Romas), stemmed and peeled* or one 28-ounce can of peeled tomatoes in puree
- 1 medium sized yellow onion, peeled and coarsely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 6 basil leaves (optional)
- 1/4 cup Extra-virgin olive oil
- salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Note: if you have a food mill, you can skip the tomato peeling & seeding below, and simply run the finished sauce through the mill.
Halve the peeled tomatoes*, and put a strainer over a bowl. Gently squeeze the seeds from each tomato half, collecting the juice. Peel and cut the onion and garlic, and combine tomatoes, with their juice, onion and garlic, and basil leaves in a blender and process to a coarse purée.
Choose a non-aluminum (non-reactive) heavy pot for the sauce. Warm the olive oil in it over low flame. Pour blender contents into the pan, and cook, stirring occasionally, until nicely thickened. As the sauce cooks, lightly salt it and add freshly ground pepper, to taste.—it will cook down and concentrate, so getting the salt just right at first will make it too salty later.
Let the sauce bubble and cook, stirring occasionally, for about half an hour,, at the highest temperature you can use without it splattering all over the stove. Once the sauce is done, taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt if needed. You can also vary the seasoning it as you like, with fresh or dried herbs, chili flakes, etc. The sauce freezes well, and can be used in my Eggplant Parmesan recipe, or as the base for any pasta sauce you like.
*to peel tomatoes, boil a pot of water and remove the stem attachment with a paring knife; cut an “X” in the bottom end, through the skin but not into the flesh. Place in boiling water for 20 seconds, drain and cool. Skins should slip right off.