Batch cooking starts with basic tomato sauce, I think we can all agree on that one. Having a few quarts of it in the freezer – or jarred up in the pantry – is reassurance of a quick hot meal in the future.
Tomato sauce is:
- good for you – see ‘fun facts’ below;
- versatile – I’ve listed ten quick uses, but there are many more;
- seasonal year round – if you use canned tomatoes, as I do;
- popular! Most children gobble up anything doused in it. This guarantee alone is worth a multi-quart stash.
The basic tomato sauce recipe I’ve included is ideal because of its down-and-out simplicity. I mean, four ingredients, folks! Canned tomatoes, extra-virgin olive oil, fresh garlic and salt, that’s IT.
By using only basic ingredients, this tomato sauce is suitable for incorporating into many different cuisines. Many ethnic dishes, such as Greek, Thai, and of course, Italian, use tomato sauce as a base and then add different spices to create their unique flavor profile. I have found that it is more practical to store a very simple tomato sauce and add seasonings (such as chili flakes or fresh basil) only when suited to the particular recipe or dish.
|Four-Ingredient Tomato Sauce|| |
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 6 to 10 large cloves of garlic, peeled
- 6 28-oz cans tomatoes, diced or whole
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Open cans of tomatoes and using an immersion blender and purée until smooth.
- Finely chop garlic, or pulse it in a mini-food processor until quite small.
- Heat a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat and add olive oil. When olive oil is hot, add garlic and stir continuously for a minute or two, taking care not to let the garlic brown.
- Add about a 1/2 a cup of tomato purée to the pot and stir it into the garlic mixture. Let it cook for a minute and the olive oil will take on a golden color. This will give the sauce a boost of flavor as the tomato sauce caramelizes in the garlic oil.
- Add remaining tomato purée and salt. Stir well. Simmer on medium low heat for at least 4 hours. Sauce will thicken. Continue cooking if you want a thicker sauce.
- Taste and adjust salt, if desired. Remember that you will be adding salt to most recipes that you will be using this base tomato sauce for.
- Remove from heat. Cool completely, then portion into Zip-lock bags or containers and freeze.
10 Uses for Basic Tomato Sauce
1. Pizza Sauce
Add 2 teaspoons sugar, 1 can tomato paste and 1 teaspoon each dried basil and oregano to 6 cups sauce. Simmer sauce an extra hour until sauce is quite thick.
2. Shrimp & Tomato Capellini
Sauté a handful of shrimp in garlic and butter. Add tomato sauce, chopped fresh herbs and toss with capellini (thinner than spaghettini) for a simple supper.
3. Easy Rosé Sauce
Add 1/2 cup 35% cooking cream to 4 cups sauce and cook an additional 15 minutes over medium low heat, stirring often. Serve over ravioli or manicotti.
4. Chicken Parmesan
Spoon tomato sauce generously over cooked breaded chicken cutlets. Top with mozzarella and bake until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling. Serve with spaghetti.
5. Sausage Ragout
Remove 4 Italian sausages from casings and sauté in a skillet with a chopped onion. Add 4-6 cups tomato sauce, 1 cup quartered button mushrooms and chopped green peppers, if desired. Simmer 15 minutes and serve over penne pasta.
6. Simple Bolognaise
Brown ground beef in a skillet. Add chopped onions & celery and cook for a few minutes. Add tomato sauce, a splash of red wine and cook over low heat for an hour or so. Serve with spaghetti or as a base for lasagna.
7. Baked Cauliflower or Zucchini
Spoon tomato sauce over cauliflower florets or chopped zucchini, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and bake in a casserole dish until vegetables are tender. Sprinkle with Parmesan during the last few minutes of baking, if desired. This is particularly nice with garlic-infused olive oil.
8. Grilled Vegetable Gratin
Grill softer vegetables such as peppers, zucchini, eggplant, or asparagus. Place in a casserole dish, top with tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella. Broil until cheese is melted.
9. Penne Arrabiata
Add crushed chillies to taste to basic tomato sauce. Serve over penne pasta and top with grated Romano cheese and parsley.
Simmer homemade meatballs in tomato sauce and serve with spaghetti.
Did You Know? Canned tomato fun facts
- Most canned tomatoes are packed in natural juices and contain no preservatives.
- They’re picked and packed at the peak of ripeness and are believed to be the ‘freshest’ canned vegetable available.
- They are cooked rapidly at high temperatures and sterilized in steel cans to keep nutrients in.
- Canned tomatoes and tomato sauces are among the best sources of Lycopene, a pigment that is responsible for the tomatoes’ red color and that is said to help protect against certain cancers.
- The heat from the canning process allows lycopene in tomatoes to be better absorbed by the body.
- Many canned tomatoes are available in low-salt and no-salt alternatives.
What gets doused in tomato sauce in your kitchen?