Cherry Tomatoes Make a Great Sauce
When you don't have a lot of time
In August, I made a video about a versatile tomato sauce you can use for pasta, pizza, just about anything else you can think of that requires a pasta sauce.
All you have to do is alter the flavorings as required, and voila, you have an instant fresh tomato sauce ready when you are.
I decided it was time to write out the recipe for you to see the changes you can make to adjust the sauce to fit what you need it for.
The main ingredient for this sauce is either grape or cherry tomatoes. You want to get them fresh either the day of but no later than two days before you're thinking of making the sauce.
Sometimes making a sauce like this is a spur of the moment thing, which is usually the case. But there are times when I'm thinking about making focaccia bread or a pizza on the weekend, and I prepare ahead of time.
This recipe is almost impossible to goof up. There are no exact measurements of the ingredients. It's all about taste and what you want to achieve.
You can make this sauce sweet or savory. You can make it spicy or mild. You can do anything you want with this sauce, and I promise your family and friends will like the results.
Like I said above, start with fresh cherry or grape tomatoes. You could use vine ripe tomatoes or plum tomatoes, but I find cherry and grape tomatoes easier to work with when working quickly. Plus, the smaller the tomato, the easier it will break down in your oil. Plus cherry and grape tomatoes are usually sweeter.
Add the following spices and herbs in small amounts to start. You'll be adding more as the sauce cooks.
Grab some extra virgin olive oil and cover the bottom of your fry pan with it. Chop up some fresh garlic. Start with two cloves and go from there. Again it's about taste. If you're a fan of garlic like we are in this house, you could add four or five cloves with no problem.
Remember, this is a forgiving recipe, so take chances and experiment.
Once you add the garlic to the oil and the pan is heating up, add some fresh or dried basil and crushed red pepper. The amount is totally up to you.
Then you'll want to season the oil with salt and a little black pepper. Go easy n the black pepper if you are using crushed red pepper. You don't want to overpower the flavor.
The reason behind adding these spices and herbs now, at least according to my grandmother who taught me this recipe, is that you want the oil to form its flavor right from the beginning. You will add more herbs and spice as you go along, but you need to get the oil infused with flavor.
Now it's time to raise the heat and add the tomatoes. The idea now is to let the tomatoes sweat in the oil and burst open. Once they start to break open, the sweetness of the tomato will infuse with the oil that you've already infused with spices and herbs, and it will create a wonderful aroma.
Your time to taste is coming, but not just yet.
Sautéing the Tomatoes
At this point, you need patience. Let the tomatoes do their own thing in the oil. Don't rush them. Once they split open, you can give them a hand opening up more by pressing down on them with your spatula or spoon or whatever your weapon of choice is.
By now, your sauce should be building up to a rich and flavorful tomato sauce. It won't be a think sauce either. The consistency shouldn't be thin and a little runny, but not too runny.
The oil should be helping to build a base. You don't want to add tomato paste unless you want a thicker sauce which is okay to do. But, this sauce is genuinely meant easy to make, with loads of flavor and the consistency that gives you plenty of sauce to mop up with Italian bread.
When my grandmother taught me this sauce, she explained that it was for nights when a person was in a rush and just wanted a quick meal full of flavor and would fill them up. This was the perfect meal to do that.
Now that the sauce is coming together, it's time to taste and adjust. Here's when you can go crazy and make this your own recipe.
Add more garlic if you want or more basil. Maybe you want some oregano in it or rosemary, thyme, or spinach. It doesn't matter what you add; it's totally up to you to make this your recipe.
If you want this for a pizza sauce, you may wish to add more oregano or other spices and herbs to add a punch to your dough.
Maybe this is for the focaccia bread you have in the oven. Then you may be wanting to add more basil or rosemary to enhance the flavor. That's great. Do what makes you happy and tastes great to you.
Remember, the above ideas are just the foundation of what you can do with this basic tomato sauce that is highly versatile.
As you're cooking, tune into the aroma and keep tasting and adjusting as the sauce cooks. As I said before, experiment with different herbs and spices until you get the taste you want.
Most importantly, though, is to enjoy making this delightful tomato sauce.