Not too long ago, my best friend/roommate and I had a petty argument about the quality of store-bought red pasta sauce. She loves Classico, I love Prego. We ended up agreeing to disagree, mostly because the reason we disagreed was because she likes her sauce chunky, and I'm not a huge tomato fan.
I mean... I like tomatoes, but they have to be in the right setting. I used to hate tomatoes altogether, but I've mostly gotten over that (Baby steps, right?).
The residual damage of my former tomato aversion is that I'm pretty picky about dishes that include tomatoes. In the last couple years of my more recent culinary adventure, I've forced myself to cook with and enjoy tomatoes, and I've been pleasantly surprised... and yet still very, very picky.
Today I took my last midterm of the week, during one of the most intense quarters in college that I've ever taken. I got out of class early, went to the grocery store, and literally spent an hour on my smartphone researching how to make smooth pasta sauce out of fresh tomatoes.
When I got home, I spent my first afternoon cooking without midterm studying or homework hanging over my head.
I made my first red pasta sauce from fresh ingredients. And I do believe I nailed it.
(Makes 80 ounces of sauce. This equals about 4 average-sized jars. We freeze this sauce in big Ziplock bags!)
- 5-6 lbs Roma tomatoes
- 1 can (12 oz) tomato paste
- 4 teaspoons garlic, minced finely
- 2/3 cup yellow onion, chopped
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
- 3 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 3 tablespoons italian seasoning
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 3/4 cup red wine
- Peel tomatoes. There are a few different methods for this, but I like to roast mine. Spear one tomato with a fork and roast it over a stove burner on high for 30 seconds to one minute. Let it cool enough to handle and then peel the skin off.
- Quarter skinned tomatoes and put them in a food processor or blender until they're smooth. (We have a mini 3-cup processor, so I had to do 3 or 4 batches)
- Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
- Saute garlic and onions until soft and fragrant.
- Add parsley, oregano, basil, salt, black pepper, pepper flakes, italian seasoning, brown sugar, broth, and wine. Simmer for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally.