Saturday, January 15, 2011

Recipe: "Fantastico" No-Sin Tomato Sauce

A jug of wine, a loaf of bread, and thou... The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám

Photo: Taste of Home
Many years ago when I was on a diet I decided to try my hand at making a tomato sauce that would be low on added fat and sugars. The following is the result. I would make it more often, but you need the better part of a Saturday afternoon to pull it off. I suppose, your homemade pizza crust could be raising at the same time!

Intense ingredients make this a complex sauce that I very much needed in the bland old days of dieting. This tomato sauce has no added oil—or anything fatty, sauteed, or fried—but has a delicious flavour that will substitute well in place of your favourite "store bought" sauce. It's sort of a puttanesca if you use the olives and capers, I suppose… You could also use it as a building block for endless variations: italian sausage and basil; mushroom; sweet pepper...

This sauce is particularly good with Genoa salami, provolone cheese and artichoke hearts on a pizza. I've even used it as the start of tomato soup. Just add some cream, wine, fresh basil, cracked black pepper and blend.

The following makes a good amount, as you can see by the ingredients list. I really can't remember how much. Let's just say it makes "enough". Possibly twice enough.

Fantastico No-Sin Tomato Sauce
Cook: 3 hours
6 cups onions, chopped
6 large garlic cloves, chopped
3 anchovy fillets, washed and chopped
9 sun-dried tomato halves, chopped
1 tbsp basil, dried (or 1/4 cup fresh)
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 cups crushed Italian tomatoes (just tomatoes, no sugar added)
1 1/2 tsp oregano, dried (or 1-1/2 tbsp fresh)
1 cup dried black olives (chopped) and 1/4 cup capers (both optional)
salt and pepper to taste
(only add salt when near the end so you can taste how much you actually need)

Combine the onions, garlic, anchovies and sun-dried tomatoes in a large saucepan or dutch oven. Add enough water to just cover. Bring to a boil and stir in the basil. 

Cover and simmer for 3 hours. Check water periodically and add if necessary. At the end of the 3 hours you should be left with very little water, but don't try to cook it dry. That's not the intention. It also will smell like nothing at this stage. You'll think you've done something wrong. But you haven't.

Add the tomato paste. Mix well. Then add the tomato sauce, oregano and pepper. Taste and then adjust the salt.

Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the sauce reduces down to your desired consistency. As it cooks the acid in the tomatoes will break down the structure of the onions. Therefore, longer cooking means smoother sauce. It will never be completely smooth. Use a blender for that.

Stir in the chopped black olives and capers, if using, and heat through. Enjoy!


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