This classic tomato sauce with basil is one of my favorite sauces. You can make it either with red or yellow heirloom tomatoes, and if heirlooms are not available you can use regular tomatoes. It is perfect with pasta and some parmesan shavings. It also makes the most delicious topping for a pizza margherita; I even like to poach eggs in it, which I serve with a slice of crusty sourdough.
A red wine made with Sangiovese grapes is the obvious choice with this sauce. Of course, a Chianti would not disappoint. But you could also serve a Barbera from northern Italy or a Pinot Noir from either California or Oregon.
Classic Heirloom Tomato Sauce with Fresh Basil
makes approximately 2 cups
active time: 30 min
- 3 lbs (1.4 kg) very ripe red or yellow meaty heirloom tomatoes – peeled and seeded (seeds strained and juices reserved, about 3/4 cup)
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (see cook’s note 2)
- 6 large garlic cloves – skinned and finely sliced
- 1 small bunch basil (3 oz) (85 g) – leaves removed from stems and torn in 1” pieces
- 3/4 to 1 teaspoon sea salt to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon aged balsamic vinegar (preferably 20 to 25 years old)
- Step 1: Place the tomatoes in a food processor and process until coarsely chopped.
- Step 2: Heat a large heavy-bottomed soup pot at medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and garlic and sauté for 1 minute only. Add the tomatoes and reserved tomato juice and bring to a boil. As soon as the sauce reaches boiling point, reduce heat to medium to medium-low and simmer uncovered for 40 minutes to 1 hour (depending on how watery your heirlooms are) until the sauce has thickened and the tomatoes separate from the olive oil, stirring from time to time. Add the basil, salt, pepper and balsamic. Continue to simmer for 2 to 3 minutes until basil has wilted. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl to cool, or proceed with your recipe of choice.
- Cook’s note 1: Refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 2 months.
- Cook’s note 2: If making several batches of the recipe, decrease the olive oil by a third and increase the cooking time to about 30 minutes for each additional portion.
Example: If you multiply the recipe 3 times, use 9 lbs tomatoes, 2/3 cup oil and simmer the sauce for 1 hour and 40 minutes to 2 hours. All other ingredients in the recipe can be multiplied exactly 3 times. Last but not least, you’ll need to increase the heat as it’ll take more heat to keep a good simmer going with this much sauce.
Disclaimer: As always, my point of view is my own. I do not accept samples, and have no commercial relationship with any product, food or wine company.