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Recipe: Tomato Sauce

By Emma @glasgowfoodie
Recipe: Tomato Sauce

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Make your own tomato sauce and taste the difference

A decent tomato sauce opens the door to many tasty dishes. From pizzas and pastas to curries to tasty stews, tomato sauce provides the base you build on. Making your own is cheap and easy, and once you have tasted your own homemade version you will never look at another ready made jar.

The Tomatoes

Recipe: Tomato Sauce

If you feel particularly flush, you can use fresh tomatoes. For the rest of us good quality tinned tomatoes are the best choice. Avoid cheap brands, they are usually watery. I use Napolina or Ciro. One of them is usually on sale in four packs for £1:99. Both come in a rich tomato juice that helps your sauce.

Plum tomatoes have the best flavour for cooking. Tinned round tomatoes are not as good as plum, neither are tinned cherry tomatoes. Chopped tomatoes are chopped round tomatoes.

You also want some tomato puree in there. It will do a lot to enrich the flavour. Brands differ. Lidl Freshona is quite sweet and only 35p a tube. It produces an orange coloured sauce that unfortunately stains everything it comes into contact with. Ciro on the other hand is about £1 a tube, sharper tasting and gives your sauce a deep red colour.

Other Things

You could just puree the tinned tomatoes, but that would be tomato puree, not tomato sauce. Tomato sauce has more body and more flavour. Those come from adding other vegetables to help build the flavour. The classic combination is equal parts of carrot, onion and celery. No need to chop them finely as you are going to blend everything when its cooked.

Recipe: Tomato Sauce

Flavourings

To keep your tomato sauce versatile, don't over flavour it. So take it easy with the garlic, herbs and salt. Add them when using the sauce. If you have a couple of red peppers in the fridge, feel free to add them.

The Secret

There is a secret.... take your time. Good sauces are reductions that cook slowly for hours. During that time the ingredients break down releasing their flavours and sugars. Stick the pot on a back burner on a very low heat. Tomatoes contain a lot of sugar, they stick and burn easily so keep an eye on it, but otherwise, get on with other things.

Ingredients

4 x 400g tins of peeled plum tomatoes.

200g of tomato puree.

1 head of celery plus roughly the same weight of carrots and onions.

6 bay leafs

6 cloves of garlic

A good glug of olive oil

Any fresh green herbs you have that are looking a bit wilted

Method

Recipe: Tomato Sauce

Peel, trim and wash the carrot, onion and celery, then chop them roughly.

Put a good glug of olive oil in a 3 to 5 litre pot.

Add the vegetables, peeled garlic and bay leaves.

Put a lid on the pot and cook on a low heat for about an hour - until the veg is soft.

Recipe: Tomato Sauce

Add the tinned tomatoes and tomato puree.

Add any fresh green herbs you have.

Add enough water to leave the vegetables just sticking above the surface.

Put a lid on the pot and cook on a low heat for about an hour.

Let the mixture cool.

Puree the mixture with a liquidiser or hand blender.

If you have one, pass the mixture through the finest disc of a food mill. It will produce a tastier sauce with a silky texture.

Store the sauce in convenient amounts in the freezer. I find 500g tubs to be about right. Use plastic storage boxes, washed butter tubs or plastic bags.

Recipe: Tomato Sauce
Recipe: Tomato Sauce
Recipe: Tomato Sauce

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