Think about it, making a good, basic tomato sauce from scratch is simple, healthy and so cheap. It’s a no-brainer! You can incorporate it into virtually all cuisines, either on it’s own or with any variety of added ingredients: classically, in delicious pasta sauces or with meatballs; as the basis of meat, fish or vegetable ragus, casseroles, stews or curries; as the basis of soups, seasoned with fresh herbs, served over rice, or spiced up with red peppers or warming lentils), for topping fresh pizzas or “tarting-up” ready made ones; and serve it cold in pasta salads or, well spiced and reduced, as a ketchup. Phew!
So, tempting as it is to reach for the apparently wonderful range of commercially processed options, don’t do it! If they’re any good, they’ll be expensive. And, no matter how good they are, at the end of the day they are all processed; despite what it might say on the label, this is Not a Good Thing. Although everyone is busy, busy, busy, believe it – once you’ve got the hang of making-your-own (and maybe have developed a couple of “favourite” basic versions) you, your creativity, your gratefully salivating recipients, and your housekeeping budget won’t look back!
So come on, show willing and get into the habit of making up a batch and freezing it in useful portions. Various sizes of re-cycled yoghurt/cream/ creme fraiche cartons are great – just dunk them in hot water for 10 minutes or so to start defrosting, before transferring to a saucepan over a medium-ish heat and attacking the contents with a fork whilst uttering a few kind words of encouragement.
So, unless you have a glut of properly ripe fresh tomatoes, you’ll get a better and more consistent result by choosing a good quality Italian tinned variety, which will yield a more intense superior flavour.
Wintry Days and Balmy Nights
This particular recipe is for a “wintry” version of a stock tomato sauce – that is to say I’ve incorporated dark brown sugar, paprika, cinnamon, chili and red wine for a rich sauce to kick off a variety of warming, wintry dishes. Omit these ingredients and add in unrefined caster sugar, majoram, lemon thyme, rosemary and lemon juice for a lighter herby, aromatic “summer” stock sauce. Above all, experiment. And when you get the flavours you really love – make sure you write down the recipe!
STOCK TOMATO SAUCE
(Makes approx 300mls thick sauce)
What You’ll Need:
Quantity of mirepoix*
- 1 red/white medium onion (finely diced)
- 1 medium carrot (finely diced)
- 1 medium stick celery (finely