A while back my daughter and I were in the city looking at schools. After spending the day torturing our feet from school to school we had to rush to catch dinner before a show that evening. Totally against my character, I had not made dinner reservations so we ducked into a little Italian restaurant near the theater. I wish I remembered the name, but I vividly remember our little table for two against the wall, the warm hue the red checkered tablecloths cast in the room, and the glorious smell of roasting tomatoes, garlic, and fresh-baked bread.
We ordered our standard favorite, fried calamari, and when I first tasted their Marinara sauce, I almost did a ‘Tom Cruise on the chair.’ I kept interjecting my daughters comments about the schools we’d visited with things like ‘is this not the best sauce you’ve ever tasted? I mean really can you taste the depth, the rounded flavors? It’s perfect don’t you think?”
I look up to see two enormous beautiful black eyes staring at me across the table. My daughter knew the signs well. Before she could say “mom please don’t” I had motioned for the waiter. Excuse me I said. Can you tell me a little about this sauce? Were the tomatoes roasted? Is that basil I taste? Is there wine in here? It was obvious he was confounded by my questions by his opened mouthed expression. And judging by the fact he was slightly out of breath in an earnest attempt to accommodate his packed section, he did not have time to answer crazy questions. Coming to his rescue my daughter tells him, “It’s ok we are late for a show anyway” and before I could get any answers, we had left.
It wasn’t the first time I’d been scurried out of an eating establishment for the same reason. At least I’ve never gone back to the kitchen like my father used to do. I know. We are a disparaging lot.
So I was left on my own to figure out a reasonable facsimile, and since then this sauce has been a staple in my house. As a matter of fact every year at the end of August I make several cases of the summer’s best and last tomato harvest to freeze for the winter. I wanted to post this recipe now for that reason. This sauce is only as good as the tomatoes you use.
4lb tomatoes peeled and coarsely chopped (I use German Johnson)
1/4 cup finely chopped Garlic
1/4 cup Olive oil
salt to taste
Basil or oregano which ever you prefer
Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for just a few minutes so that they will release their skins.
Peel the tomatoes and coarsely chop and place all ingredients in a medium to large size casserole depending on how much you are making.
bake at 400 degrees for about 1hr. or until the tomatoes start to brown and thicken.
Remove from oven, blend with a hand blender or blender.
Here is when we usually take some out for immediate use and bag up the rest and freeze it. We use this sauce for everything and anything that calls for red sauce and sometimes even if it’s not called for.
If you need a visual demonstration click here for a quick video.