There are so many bad places I could go with the title of this post, but I will leave that to your imagination. A little over a year ago, I posted a recipe for a rustic tomato sauce . Crappy photography aside, it’s a lovely sauce, but I wanted to play around with the recipe to come up with something more sophisticated. Tomatoes are at the end of the season here in Chicago, and I’m getting anxious about going without through the winter. Tomato sauce seems like the perfect way for me to preserve what’s left and insure that my cravings will be satisfied at least a few months into the winter.
The new recipe is very similar to the old one, except I add some fresh basil, a tiny bit of sugar and some saffron. I got the idea for saffron from a scene in the movie “Bandits” . I friggin’ love that goofy movie. It’s the scene when Billy Bob Thornton and Bruce Willis have “kidnapped” an entire family the night before they plan to rob the bank the dad manages, and they are all sitting around the table eating dinner. Bruce Willis’ daughter, playing one of the kids, proceeds to belch the alphabet while the mother sobs uncontrollably into her pasta. Billy Bob Thornton is pestering her for the recipe, because there is a spice he just can’t place, and she sobs out “saffron”, much to his delight. It’s actually one of the best scenes in the movie and I die laughing every time I see it.
The only other major difference from my old recipe is that this one goes into the blender for a few seconds. I have a feeling a smoother sauce will freeze more successfully, versus big chunks. I’ll know for sure in a month or two, when I can no longer keep myself from gobbling it up.
This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled if you end up with a huge tomato harvest.
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound tomatoes, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup basil, shredded
1/4 teaspoon sugar
a few pinches of saffron
Heat the oil in a sauce pan over medium-high heat. Peel and chop the onion and add to the sauce pan. Cook the onions for a few minutes until they soften.
Meanwhile, rinse the tomatoes and halve across the equator. Dig out the seeds with your fingers and discard them, then roughly chop the tomatoes.
Mince the garlic. Add it to the softened onions and cook for about 1 minute. Add the chopped tomatoes and the salt and pepper to taste.
Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover it, and let it bubble for a good 30 minutes.
To shred the basil, stack several whole leaves on top of one another, then roll them up length-wise into a cigar shape. Slice through the cigar to create long slivers of basil.
In the last few minutes of cooking, add the sugar, shredded basil and saffron to the sauce. Stir to combine and let it bubble a few more minutes.
Let the sauce cool for 10 minutes before you put it in the blender. I think it’s a little dangerous to blend really hot liquids. Once cooled, process the sauce in the blender for a few seconds until it looks uniform.
Serve immediately over pasta, or put it into a freezer-safe container and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.