Sunday, February 8, 2009

Tomato sauce, spicy variation, HTCE Red, pg. 502

We went food shopping today and as I reached for my normal bottle or two of tomato sauce, I thought against it and decided to make some homemade sauce, some for tonight, some to freeze for another evening. I tried making sauce from scratch once and it was bland, boring and not as good as store bought. Bittman's recipe has changed all that. The sauce was spicy as promised and delicious.

The recipe is simple, saute garlic and onions then add two cans of whole tomatoes, spices (I used cayenne pepper instead of chilies, because we were out, some bay leaves and an amazing pizza spice mix we bought in Argentina), salt and pepper. As I added the tomatoes I squeezed them to help the process of breaking down the pieces. One way to get around this step would be to use crushed tomatoes, but I have to say the process was cathartic, albeit slightly messy.

Bittman says to leave it simmering on the stove for 15-20 minutes, but I wanted the sauce to have great depth. I left it simmering on a low heat for nearly three hours while I prepared food for the week and made a gluten-free artichoke tart (this is the non-Bittman recipe for the crust, and this is the recipe for the artichoke filling--I made it without prosciutto).

Like Clare wrote the other day, I am also finding that I have a hard time following recipes. That's why I've always preferred to cook rather than bake. I like to play with the spices and find new flavors on my own. In that vein, I played a bit with this recipe in terms of spices, adding to Bittman's base. I pureed some fresh basil with olive oil and added it to the sauce, creating a pesto hint to the overall flavor. I think this worked well.

I plated the dish with a slice of the artichoke tatin. This might have been close to the perfect late afternoon Sunday meal. The recipe made a lot of sauce. We had enough for tonight, leftovers and a large container of sauce that's getting chilled in the freezer for a quick weekday meal sometime in the future. Can't wait.

(Thanks to Kali Kitty for being the best kitchen aide ever.)


  1. The sauce looks amazing and it seems relatively straightforward.

  2. I have yet to make my own tomato sauce. I think I'll have to try it! The artichoke tart looks great too. I bet everything tasted great together!