After trying different recipes over the years, this is the recipe that I finally liked the most. This is really an adaptation and combination of the best parts of many other recipes from friends, family, the Internet and some cookbooks. The last time I made it, I gave a jar to each of my kids to try. They liked it so much that they asked for more and more. Then, as I was ready to use it in a dish, I found that it was all gone!
- 10 large ripe tomatoes (or I prefer 30 Roma tomatoes because they are easier to peel and you can easily squeeze the seeds)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 white onion (chopped)
- 1 large green bell pepper (chopped)
- 2 carrots (scraped and chopped)
- 6 garlic cloves (minced finely)
- 1⁄4 cup chopped fresh basil (I use fresh Greek basil)
- 1 tablespoon italian seasoning (store-bought is fine)
- 2 tablespoons fresh oregano (finely chopped)
- 1 cup Burgundy wine (or any red wine you prefer)
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 stalks celery
- 6 ounces tomato paste (Canned. Or, if you dare, make your own but, boy, that's a lot of work!)
- salt and pepper (to taste)
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Have a large bowl of iced water ready (I normally use one side of the sink, fill it with cold water and dump a bag of ice into it). Plunge whole tomatoes into the boiling water (carefully so you don’t splash! I use the slotted spoon and roll them in) for approximately 1 minute. Remove with slotted spoon and place in the ice water bath. Let the tomatoes rest in the water until cool enough to handle, then remove peel and squeeze out seeds. Puree the tomatoes in a blender or food processor. If you would like your sauce to be “chunky”, chop two or three of the tomatoes and set aside.
- In a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, cook onion, bell pepper, carrot and garlic in oil and butter until onion starts to soften, about 5 minutes. Pour in pureed tomatoes. Stir in chopped tomato, basil, Italian seasoning, oregano and wine. Place bay leaf and whole celery stalks in pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 2 hours. Stir in the tomato paste and simmer an additional 2 hours (depending on many factors, each batch of sauce may vary in consistency. You can adjust the simmering time up or down according to your taste in thickness). Discard bay leaf and celery.
- At this point, I normally cool the sauce and then run it through the blender or food processor once more because I like my sauce to be smooth. This allows me to use it in all types of recipes and, if needed, I can always make it chunky again by adding some more chopped veggies.
- Storage: You can store the sauce in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks but this makes a large batch so you may want to look for alternate, long-term storage methods. I have found that this sauce freezes rather well in zipper bags or plastic containers. I have used glass jars before but they have a tendency to crack in the extreme cold. Plastic containers are more pliable and don’t crack as easily. If they do crack, you don’t have to worry about little bits of glass becoming imbedded in your sauce.
- I also can my tomato sauce by processing it in canning jars and a hot water bath. The Internet is full of canning instructions if you decide to can. However, once you open a jar of the canned sauce, refrigerate the remains immediately. I use 1 pint jars.
- Variation: Some people really like a sweet tomato sauce (my wife included). If this is your taste, then you can add 1 tablespoon of white sugar and 1 tablespoon of brown sugar when you first start simmering the sauce and adjust from there if you want it sweeter. As an alternative, you could also use a sweet red wine such a port or Marsala.