Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Profondo Roso - Base Recipe for Red Sauce

Semi-dried heirloom tomatoes
The first step in making a great base tomato sauce is to prep your tomatoes.  Always start with high quality tomatoes (organic preferred) at peak ripeness.  Removing the skin is easy and will make it them easier to digest and easier to chop.  Just score an x on the bottom of each tomato, boil a large pot of water, prepare an ice bath and blanch them for about 20-30 seconds.  The skins will easily peel off.  There is some debate among chefs whether we should remove the seeds.  I've found that different varieties of local tomatoes have very different tasting seeds, and many are quite bitter.  So I usually remove them, but others tell me they don't notice the difference.  Finally, dice your tomatoes to your desired chunkiness.  Now you're ready to prepare your mise-en-place.

Profondo Rosso Sauce (takes about 1 hr: 20-min prep, 40 min cook time)

  • 6-8 cups peeled, seeded, diced tomatoes
  • 1-2 cups basil leaves
  • 1-cup diced sweet onion or 1/2-red onion and 1/2-sweet
  • 1.5-2 cups strained tomatoes or 1-cup tomato paste
  • 5-6 cloves of finely diced garlic
  • 1-tbsp dried thyme or 2-tbsp fresh
  • 2-tsp dried oregano or 1-tbsp fresh
  • Sea salt to taste


  1. Dry saute the onions for a minute or two until they become translucent but not browned. If they begin to brown or stick, add a tbsp of water or two and use a wooden spatula to keep them from sticking.
  2. Add a pinch or two of salt to taste
  3. Turn down the heat to medium low and add the garlic, thyme and oregano.
  4. Add a bit more water as necessary to sweat the ingredients without browning them, for about 5 minutes until they become very soft and release their sugars.
  5. Add the diced tomatoes and strained tomatoes and stir until well combined.
  6. Turn down the heat until you achieve a low simmer and cook for another 20-30 minutes until the sauce is reduced by about 1/3 or until you reach your desired consistency.  Taste the sauce periodically during cooking and add additional seasoning if desired.
  7. Chiffonade the basil and turn off the heat.
  8. Add the basil to the sauce and stir.
Creamy Tomato Sauce over Veg Noodles and Quinoa

Now you have a fantastic base recipe to build on.  Here are my a few of my favorite variations:

  • Creamy tomato pasta sauce:  Blend 3/4 cup of cashews with the zest and juice of one lemon and add to the base
  • Marsala mushroom wine sauce: Add 1/2 cup of marasala wine + 1 cup of porcini mushrooms
  • Canneloni Beet Greens and Tomato stew: Saute an onion, 1-cup cannelloni beans and add 2 cups of the base sauce, turn off heat and add 3-4 heaping cups of beet greens, mix together to wilt greens.
  • Easy Gaszpatcho: chill the base sauce, add diced cucumber, diced red pepper, juice of a lime and ground pepper and cumin.
  • Pizza sauce: soak 5-6 dates in water, drain and then blend dates with some of the base sauce. Combine the mixture to the rest of the base and add 1/2 cup nutritional yeast and 1-2 tbsp red pepper flakes.  Optionally add shaved hazelnuts for a parmesan consistency.

No comments:

Post a Comment