2 lbs. ripe tomatoes
1 small onion, diced
5 tbs. very good olive oil
1 clove garlic (optional)
10 fresh, basil leaves
How to make the Tomato Sauce:
In a well-known book by Pellegrino Artusi, La Scienza in Cucina e L’Arte di Mangiar Bene (Science in the kitchen and the Art of Eating Well), written in 1891, in a preface to a recipe for tomato sauce, Artusi emphasizes its popularity with this anecdote: “There was a priest of a small village who had the bad habit of sticking his nose into everything and into everybody’s family affairs. He was, however an honest man, and more good than bad came from his meddling and his people would let him be. But the villagers, sharp as they were, renamed him Don Pomodoro because, just like tomatoes, he could enter and be welcomed everywhere”.
Good tomato sauce is the basic condiment of many a wonderful dish.
Scald the tomatoes in boiling water. Cool, peel, seed and either dice or crush them. Wash and chop the basil leaves.
Heat the oil in a skillet and saute the garlic. Remove when brown. Add the onion and saute over medium heat until the onion begins to get tender (do not let it brown), stirring occasionally. Add the tomatoes, salt to taste. Cover and let simmer for about an hour, stirring now and then. Add the basil at the end.
The sauce is now ready to be used. If fresh tomatoes are not available, canned peeled tomatoes may be used, provided they are of good quality. If the tomatoes are not very ripe, add a small carrot, finely diced, to the soffritto. This will help to tone down the acidity of the unripe tomatoes.
This base sauce may be used as a condiment for pasta or for all preparations requiring tomato sauce.
To achieve a creamy consistency it may be passed through a fine sieve.
If instead of basil oregano is added, the sauce is called pizzaiola.
Add 4 anchovy fillets, peperoncino, a spoonful of capers, two tbs. of Gaeta olives to the basic recipe, and the sauce is called puttanesca.