Gah – I love tomatoes! I think they are best enjoyed when served on toast (under some grated garlic) or as a bowl of hearty tomato soup and two slices of crusty bread and butter. This recipe is fairly flexible, so that you can alter it to your taste and richness.
Whatever the season, I will always have some rich tomato sauce either in my freezer or a jar of it in my fridge. It is so versatile as an excellent addition to many meals or it can elevate a simple snack. It is great to share a jar with a neighbour too.
Preparing the simplest of meals during this lockdown has been aided by having this in my arsenal. If you cannot source vine tomatoes you can use different types of tomatoes, just put them by the window to ripen until they are a deep red. You can’t go wrong.
Some ideas for serving…
- Tomatoes on toast
- Pizza base
- Pasta sauces
- Indian Curry Sauces (omit basil if you wish…or leave it in. I do!)
- One-Skillet Shakshuka eggs
- 12 large tomatoes on the vine for optimal flavour, grated or chopped
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic bulb, smashed and roughly chopped
- 5 celery stalks, each cut into three pieces.
- 1 passata jar
- 1 tin of tomatoes (any will do)
- Half a tube tomato paste (add more for richness)
- 25g fresh basil, whole or chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 vegetable stock cube (chicken stock work well too)
- 1 litre of water
- Salt to taste
- Step 1 Heat the cup of olive oil in a large pan on medium heat.
- Step 2 Thinly slice the rounded side of the celery pieces so that they sit flat in the pan. Place the celery in the pan, on its flat side, so that the celery well is facing up.
- Step 3 Put the smashed garlic into the celery well (not directly into the oil as this will burn the garlic and be bitter to taste). Simmer the garlic and celery until softened, about 5 min.
- Step 4 Add the fresh tomatoes (add the vine – it smells amazing!), jar of passata, tin of tomatoes, and half a tube of tomato paste. Stir and simmer, for about 5 min.
- Step 5 Taste the sauce
- Step 6 add the bay leaves, fresh basil, stock cube and 1 litre of water. Stir and salt to taste.
- Step 7 Put the lid half on (so that it doesn’t make a mess, but more importantly with a gap so that the water can evaporate). Simmer gently for 45 min to an hour.
- Step 8 Occasionally stir the sauce so that it does not stick to the bottom of the pan. The sauce will gradually thicken and develop a richer taste. This takes time.
- Step 9 Taste the sauce again. It should have a nice thick consistency with chunks of tomato and have a good balance of flavour. Let it cool in the pan.
- Step 10 When cooled. Remove the tomato vine stalks. If you prefer a chunky sauce, simply transfer the sauce directly into containers. Alternatively, you could sieve the sauce into containers or blend it. It is up to you.