Using fresh tomatoes; variations on the theme.
Choose fully ripe, deep red, and richly flavored tomatoes for sauce, preferably a type, such as the plum tomato, that’s low in water. Fruit that’s too soft for salads can be used, but discard any with signs of decay; these give sauce an unpleasant flavor. If good fresh tomatoes are unavailable, substitute canned ones, whole or purÃ©ed.
For 3 cups of sauce, peel 2 to 21/4 pounds tomatoes. Slice them in half crosswise and squeeze out seeds; then chop the tomatoes. (If you have a food mill, eliminate these two steps and just destem and quarter them.) Chop a large onion and saute it in 2 tablespoons oil in a large enamel or stainless-steel pot. Add the tomatoes, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 2 cloves minced garlic, and 1 tablespoon each minced fresh parsley and basil.
Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer 30 minutes; stir occasionally. If not thick enough, simmer uncovered until it’s thicker, or add 1 to 2 tablespoons tomato paste. Force the sauce through a food mill, or puree It in a blender or food processor. (You need not puree if you like a chunky sauce. ) If the sauce is too tart. sweeten it slightly with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon sugar. Serve it with pasta, rice, meat, or vegetables. Serves four.
Bacon sauce: SautÃ© 3 tablespoons diced lean bacon with the onion.
Creole sauce; SautÃ© 1 chopped green pepper and 2 stalks chopped celery with the onion. Omit the basil: add two or three dashes hot pepper sauce (or to taste) and a bay leaf. Remove the bay leaf before serving.
Meat sauce: Saute 1/2 pound of ground beef with the onion.
Marinara (Italian) sauce; Increase the basil to 1/4 cup and add 1 teaspoon dried oregano and 1/2 cup red wine.
Mushroom sauce,- Add 1/2 pound sliced, sauteed mushrooms to marlnara sauce just before serving.
Tomato sauce keeps well in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for several days. It can be stored in the freezer for up to 1 year.