Tomato sauce is another one of those classic food staples that has lost the battle to “speed and convenience”. You can buy it canned, jarred or already mixed with your favorite pasta, so why would you make it yourself? Because fresh tomatoes, slowly cooked and pureed are unflinchingly delicious, thats why.
I start out by blanching some tomatoes. These are plum tomatoes and a couple random tomatoes from a variety box I got at the farmer’s market. To blanch something bring a pot of water to a boil and prepare a bowl of ice water on the side, throw whatever it is your blanching in the pot, in this case tomatoes, for about 15-20 seconds. Pull the tomatoes out of the pot, with tongs or a spider, and immediately put them in the ice water. This will stop the tomatoes from cooking, which is good.
Next, I get the pot ready for the actual sauce. Heat the pan on low-medium and dice up some onions. When the pot is hot enough (not too hot, mind you), add some Olive Oil and then the onions with a little salt and pepper. We’re going to sweat the onions, not caramelize or saute them, so if they start to get brown, turn the heat down (I did not intend for that to rhyme, but I’m coining that phrase).
While the onions are sweating it out, turn back to your tomatoes. The skin should be really easy to peel now that we’ve blanched them, and that’s what we’re going to do next. I use a paring knife to peel mine. The trick here is to do it slowly, the slower you peel the more skin you’ll get off on one try. After I peel a tomato I poke a hole on one side (top or bottom) and give it a light squeeze in the sink, getting a few seeds and junk out. You can skip this or go further and try to get all of it out, depending on taste.
So, in go the tomatoes, some salt and pepper and some crushed red pepper. Put a lid on the pot and let it go for 10-15, still at a medium-low heat.
After 10-15, it should look like this. At this point i crush a few cloves of garlic, de-skin them and throw them in, whole. I borrowed this from José Andrés, as he would say, “it opens a window into the garlic.”
Put the lid back on and let it go for a good 30 minutes or so, this time on low heat.
After 30 minutes, take of the heat and remove the garlic, or leave a clove or two in if you’re feeling crazy. Add everything into a food processor and let it fly. It may take some time to do, but the time is spent prepping or waiting, so its not really a time waster. Besides, you can make this days in advance and save it in the fridge. Face it, you have no reason not to make this for yourself.