CLASSIC pasta fresh tomato sauces








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three wonderful fresh tomato sauces for immediate use or for freezing


Here are several tomato sauces to make when fresh, wonderful tomatoes are available. Almost always, one should use Italian plum tomatoes, very ripe, although there are a few varieties of non-plums, always relatively small in size, that have intense flavor and can make wonderful sauces.

These sauces can be produced for immediate use, or, in our case, in quantities enough for freezing, to be enjoyed through the non-tomato winter seasons.

We are non-peelers, and non-seeders. However, if you want to peel and seed, toss the tomatoes into a pot of boiling water for about 30 seconds. Retrieve them with a slotted spoon. As soon as you can handle them, skin them by peeling or by rubbing them with a blunt edge of a knife and pulling the skins off. Cut in half and remove the seeds.

We like a Mouli (food mill), generally using the middle-size disc first, and then, if we want a very silky sauce, the smaller size as we put the sauce into freezing containers. The Mouli process also takes care of a lot of the seeds, especially using the smaller size disc.

(one can, if one must, substitute two cups of excellent Italian imported, top quality, like San Marzano, canned peeled tomatoes for the fresh tomatoes. Not recommended for the Marcella #3 sauce)

Marcella #3

This is our favorite when one has truly terrific tomatoes. It comes from Marcella Hazan's first book, The Classic Italian Cook Book, where she describes three tomato sauces. This one is Roman Numeral 3 (III), hence our name.

The Classic Italian Cook Book is now out of print, but Marcella has combined the Classic and the More Classic, along with revisions and updating, into Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, which one must have in one's library (see library).

However, there are still many of us who think the original The Classic Italian Cook Book is the best single cook book written. Julia's Mastering the Art is more famous, and sold more, but when Classic was published in 1973, it provided a cook with a complete set of recipes, easy to use, with results incredible to taste, good for every meal every day. Try the used book markets.!

for the sauce:

  • 2 pounds of fresh, ripe, wonderful tomatoes
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • one medium yellow onion, peeled and cut in half

Wash the tomatoes. Cut them in half, then again, into quarters. Put them in a saucepan, over low to medium heat (do not let them burn on the bottom), and cook them on a simmer, covered, for ten minutes.

Put the tomatoes through a food mill, middle size disc, and put the mixture back into the saucepan. Add the butter and the two halves of the onion, one teaspoon of salt, and a pinch of sugar. Cook, uncovered, at a steady simmer for 30 minutes. Discard the onion, fishing it out with a slotted spoon, Adjust salt to taste.

Put through the food mill again, on smallest disc, for pure silkiness. Use immediately or put into containers for freezing. A dash of sunlight and warmth on a future winter evening.

canned tomato variation:

Mark Bittman, the superb cook book author, visited with Marcella Hazan a few weeks before she died on Sept. 29, 2013. At that visit at her Longboat Key condo, she and Mark cooked together. and "she helped make her famous tomato sauce, a slow-cooked affair of canned tomatoes, a lot of butter and half an onion," he wrote. "It is perhaps the best tomato sauce you can make without doing much of anything."

This is, of course, the famous Marcella #3 above, with canned tomatoes, which was a surprise to me. But if it was fine with Mark and Marcella, terrific. here is the recipe they did as he adapted it slightly:

  • two cups canned, imported peeled Italian tomatoes, with their juice, chopped
    five tablespoons butter
    one medium onion, peeled and cut in half

Put the canned tomatoes in a medium saucepan, add the onion and butter and salt and cook uncovered at a slow but steady simmer for about 45 minutes, or until it is thickened to your liking.

Stir from time to time, mashing up the chopped tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Discard the onion. Taste for salt. Yield for 1 1/2 pound pasta. Enjoy this winter!

Benedetta and basil

This sauce, which is definitely our sauce of choice in the summer when basil is ready, is adapted from Benedetta Vitale's wonderful book, Soffrito, a beautiful book by the famed Florence restaurateur, with not only wonderful recipes and advice, but the warmth of Renaissance humanism echoing through the pages. (see Library).

This is a very simple sauce, and with freshly cut basil, is always spectacular.

for the sauce:

  • two pounds of tomatoes
  • one-third cup olive oil
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • one cup of basil, torn into small pieces by hand (do not chop)
  • salt and a pinch of sugar
  • rosemary, thyme and oregano (optional but we almost always use it -- see "note" below)

Wash the tomatoes. Cut them in half, then again, into quarters.

Put the oil and garlic into a saucepan over medium heat. As soon as you hear the garlic start to sizzle, immediately put in the tomatoes, add the salt and sugar, about a teaspoon and cook, uncovered over a low/medium heat, for about 10 minutes.

About two minutes before the tomatoes are finished cooking (at about eight minutes) add the basil to the sauce, stir a few times, and complete the cooking..

Put the sauce through the food mill, medium disc, and put it back into the sauce pan. Check taste for salt and sugar.  Bring the sauce to a boil, and then stop. Put the sauce into the containers (or use immediately).

>>note: we frequently add a sprig of rosemary, a couple sprigs of thyme and a tablespoon or so of fresh oregano -- for a little added flavor.

Herbed and more

This sauce is heavier and more complex in flavor than the two previous ones, which are more pure. This is an incredible all-purpose sauce for spaghetti, penne, or even tagliolini. The sauce always varies a little from one production to another, depending on the tomatoes, vegetables and herbs used. Serendipity indeed. But always a winner.

for the sauce:

  • two pounds of fresh tomatoes
  • one cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 20 sprigs of parsley
  • 10 sprigs of basil
  • 10 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 teaspoons of chopped rosemary
  • salt and a touch of sugar

Wash the tomatoes. Cut them in half, then again, into quarters. Put them in a saucepan, over low to medium heat (do not let them burn on the bottom), and cook them on a simmer, covered, for ten minutes.

Add the onions, carrots, celery, all the herbs, and a couple of teaspoons of salt. Cook, uncovered, at a regular, slow, simmer for thirty minutes.

Put the sauce through the food mill, middle disc, and back into the saucepan. Add the olive oil, and cook gently, uncovered, for another ten minutes.

Use the food mill again, if you wish, check for salt (and sugar if it needs a touch more sweetness), and use immediately or freeze for "anon".

Elizabeth David

We had to include this recipe here because we want to make sure it doesn't get lost in the plethora of Italian cook books floating around kitchens this millennium. It is from the famous Elizabeth David, who was responsible for initially bringing the joys of quality cooking to England and beyond. This is from her book "Italian Food" which is still in print, and was first published in 1954. A revised edition in 1963 by Penguin proved to the the major success.

Here is the recipe actually as she wrote it:

One pound of fresh tomatoes, one small onion, one ounce of lean ham or bacon, one clove of garlic, butter, Marsala.

Fry the chopped onion in butter, add the ham or bacon cut into small pieces, then the peeled and quartered tomatoes and the garlic. Season with salt and pepper, and let the sauce cook rapidly for five minutes. Pour in a sherry-glassful of Marsala and cook 2 or 3 minutes.

For pasta, rice, fish, meat. Use tinned peeled tomatoes when fresh ones are not sufficiently ripe.

>>> Try it. You might want to simmer it a little longer (say fifteen minutes at least) and run it through a food mill, but the Marsala touch is fascinating.













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