A Better Tomato Sauce
The Right Balance of Flavors
A good red tomato sauce has the right balance of sweet, tart (acid), salt and savory. You want to taste the sweetness from summer ripened tomatoes and also detect just a touch of tartness from the acid in these same tomatoes. Other flavors of garlic and basil should be present, but only in a supporting role. This recipe achieves this delicate balance of flavors, thanks to a touch of honey and a bit of butter.
Good Italian cooking uses quality ingredients, simply prepared. Start with some rich, red San Marzano plum tomatoes and layer in the additional flavors of olive oil, garlic and basil. Using honey instead of sugar for the sweetener gives a greater depth of flavor.
Serve this delicious sauce over pasta or use as a pizza sauce. Leftover sauce can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.
- 28 oz. can of San Marzano tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 15-20 fresh basil leaves
In a medium pot, heat the olive oil over low heat. Peel and crush the garlic clove with the flat side of a chef's knife. Try to keep the garlic clove in a single piece. Add the garlic to the olive oil and gently cook for a minute or two. Do not burn the garlic as this with ruin the sauce with a bitter flavor. You just want to perfume the oil with the garlic, nothing more. Remove the garlic from the oil.
Using a blender (stick or regular), puree the tomatoes and add to the pan. Add the salt and honey and bring to a low simmer. Simmer on low for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the butter to melt.
Tear the basil leaves into pieces. Tearing basil, rather than chopping it, prevents the edges from turning dark. Stir in the basil pieces and allow the residual heat to wilt the basil. (You could use dried basil here, but it will not have the same bright flavor as fresh basil.)
Taste and adjust the seasoning. Each can of tomatoes can be slightly different, plus our sense of taste is rather subjective. So you might need another pinch of salt, or another teaspoon of honey. But don't overdo it and seek to achieve the right balance of sweet and acid.
Serve over pasta with some grated parmesan. Buon Appetito!