Italian Tomato Sauce
Easy Italian Tomato Sauce
The secret to making a tasty Italian tomato sauce for pasta is not as hard as you think. The answer is simple, do as the cunning Umbrians do. Cheat --Italian-style! It is a well known fact that tomatoes are a summer crop in Italy & granted there is nothing more delicious than a ripe tomato picked fresh from the vine however these delicious morsels are not usually wasted in a cooked dish --moreover they are generally savoured fresh, on-their-own, solo.
After the month of August when tomatoes are at their peak ripening stage there is normally a glut of produce; hence the "passata frenzy". This has become an event on the national calendar. During one week, usually around the beginning of September, entire families join forces to prepare the passata for bottling which will be then stored & used during the winter months when of course, tomatoes are non existent. Hard work but fun with a rewarding outcome!
To make a quick & very tasty sauce for pasta, Italians will generally use the canned variety...albeit of the absolute best quality. Living in Italy has exposed me to some of the best cooking teachers -- the local women of my neighbourhood. The ladies in my village have always turned to what they have on hand --out of necessity and as with all cooking from the "poor kitchen"...La Cucina Povera, some ingredients change from season to season, depending on what is available.
Over time I have learnt to add my own stamp to this recipe...at times I will substitute basil for other herbs, add a few mushrooms when they are in season and even a handful of stale breadcrumbs to thicken the sauce. Thanks to a very local education, I have become a quick learner. This is one recipe that has now become a staple in my humble Umbrian kitchen.
It is simple, quick, & never fails me --a family favorite. Enjoy!
Easy Italian Tomato Sauce
2 finely chopped onions
4 garlic cloves minced
a good slug of extra-virgin olive oil
a handful of fresh finely chopped Italian parsley, a bay leaf, some torn basil leaves
6 cans of quality chopped tomatoes + juice
*optional-a cup of pan roasted cherry tomatoes, salt & pepper to season.
Saute onion, garlic, sage & parsley in olive oil using a large deep pan, continue until onions are transparent taking care not to burn the garlic (it will be bitter). This should take about 5 minutes.
Add the tinned tomatoes & bay leaf stirring well to mix with onion. Place a lid partially covering the pan & simmer on medium heat until most of the liquid has evaporated & the sauce has thickened. If the mixture becomes too dry, add a little vegetable stock. Just before serving, add a few torn basil leaves (if you have them). Remove bay leaf before plating-up. How easy is that I ask you?
*This sauce makes approximately 6 cups, serving 6 people. It can be made while the pasta is boiling & will will in the fridge (well sealed) for up to 3 days. It marries well with either flat pasta ribbons, noodles or cut pasta shapes. Dont forget the bread to mop up the plate & a rustic "red" such as Montefalco Rosso to go with it!
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Living in Italy Blog
- La Casa Umbra
Two Australians move to Italy, restore a country house & navigate life in a new land & a new language.