Wishing to take advantage of the fresh, ripe tomatoes found at the farmer’s markets right now, I bought about 25 pounds of Roma, San Marzano, and beefsteak tomatoes. Some went into the dehydrator, and the rest were transformed into The Best Fresh Tomato Sauce this afternoon. Suffice to say the sauce is amazing. So sweet and complex. I can’t wait to make some spaghetti. I reduced the attached recipe by half and still ended up with just under a gallon of sauce. It took about 4 hours to go from whole tomatoes to sauce. One pretty essential tool you will need is a food mill. If you don’t have one, Cook’s Illustrated’s top-rated food mill is $24.95 at Amazon.Com. This is an interesting and fun recipe that will pay a most pleasant dividend. Give it a try.
The first step is to cook and puree a quantity of the paste-type tomatoes and roast the puree in a slow oven for a couple of hours. You will eventually get, not surprisingly, tomato paste. This lends a thicker texture and a complex, sweet flavor to the finished sauce. I have never made tomato paste before and I am really pleased with the clean and bright flavored results – commercially prepared pastes taste like the can they were stored in. Tomato paste in a tube does not taste much better in my view.
While the paste is reducing in the oven you can cook down the remaining tomatoes and run them through the food mill. Then saute some chopped onion and garlic until tender, add the tomatoes back in, and simmer the sauce a little to thicken it. Now comes an unusual step – add some sprigs of whole basil and a small sprig of the tomato vine. Let the herbs infuse for about 5 minutes and then remove and discard them. By this time the paste is sufficiently reduced and gets added to the puree. Season with salt to taste and you’re done. The end result is a silky, deeply flavorful sauce that I believe is the best I’ve ever made.