There’s tomato sauce and there’s Tuscan Tomato sauce. Trust me that once you try this version I doubt you will ever change back. Best of all, the sauce really is the easiest thing to make if you have a food processor and is as cheap as chips except for the olive oil – though honestly if you are stuck plain veg or rice bran oil will work just as well.
What I love about this sauce is its intense depth of flavour and as it almost cooks itself, even though it takes an hour you do not have to stand over it.
What to do with it?
Over pasta, of course, and the Tuscan Tomato sauce also makes a great pizza base. Turn the sauce quickly into the best tomato soup and I have put details of how to do this below. And the show-off dish must be a Tuscan Tomato Tart, simply delicious and fo the grown-ups, try Penne alla Vodka, link to the recipe below.
Makes approximately 1 litre of sauce depending on how much you reduce it.
1 small onion, roughly chopped
2 medium or 1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic
A small handful of flat-leaf parsley
A small handful basil leaves
8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tins chopped tomatoes
Salt and pepper
- You can either put the oil, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, parsley and basil into a food processor and pulse until finely minced. Or, chop them a few at a time as in the image .
Heat half the olive oil in a large saucepan or stockpot, add the chopped vegetables and cook gently to soften for about 15 minutes.
- Add the tinned tomatoes, juices and all and scatter the basil over.
Bring to a gentle boil, turn the heat down and cook until the vegetables are tender and broken down into the tomato. This can be a messy business as if cooked too fast it will splatter everywhere. So, reduce the heat if this happens and avoid covering the pan, you want a thick reduced sauce. It can take up to an hour. The sauce should look like this. Once it does, taste and season with a little salt and pepper. The sauce is now ready to use.
- You can put the sauce into a food processor and pulse it a couple of times to create a smoother sauce and take care not to over pulse it.
8. Ways to Use Your Tuscan Tomato Sauce
Pasta, Gnocchi, Lasagna
The sauce can be used over any type of pasta or gnocchi and layered up in a lasagna. If you over reduce the sauce, it is very forgiving and by adding in a little boiling water and stirring through it will loosen up again. Or, if you feel generous, a good slug of olive oil.
Take your homemade pizza to another level with this sauce as your base. As it is very rich, do not overload onto the base, a little will go a long way.
Cream of Tomato Soup
Take 500g of the sauce into a saucepan, add 500ml veg (or chicken if you prefer) stock. Bring to a gentle simmer for five minutes. Tip into a food processor, add 50ml cream and blitz. Season to taste and add more cream to your liking, another quick blitz then serve immediately or reduce further for a thicker soup.
Vodka Sauce is an old ’70’s recipe where the smoothed tomato sauce is enriched with a dash of vodka, butter and cream. Odd as this may sound it brings a delicious flavour to what is already a great sauce – think Bloody Mary. You can find my Penne alla Vodka Recipe here.
Tuscan Tomato Tart
This beautiful tart tastes as good as it looks. You will need one batch of the sauce and the remainder of the recipe is here.
Blend the thick sauce to create a silky smoother version which is lovely spooned over steamed fish. Or, add a few chilli flakes for a little heat and super with grilled meats.