Adaptable Tomato Sauce

I have training in classical French cuisine. Sounds oh so fancy no? Well it turns out it actually ends up being oh so useless in practical life.

Okay, I shouldn’t say useless. A lot of the basic skills have value, but its none too often that I’ll take the time to debone a chicken leg, make a filling, stuff the chicken, wrap it, boil it (yes boil), and then bake it. Not to mention make a sauce that requires the creation of two other sauces, and potatoes that have been peeled, chopped, boiled, mashed, shaped, coated and fried.

I don’t even bother to peel my potatoes now; everyone knows all the nutrients are in the skin anyway.

Practical cooking is all about adaptability. Local cooking is all about adaptability. This tomato sauce recipe, oh it’s adaptable.

You can make this with canned tomatoes, tomato puree, strained tomatoes, fresh tomatoes or a combination. In the winter I usually make it with tomato puree I made in the fall and have waiting in the freezer. But I’ve run out of last year’s stock and this time I made this with fresh beef stake tomatoes from Wendy’s Mobile Market.

The base of the sauce is tomatoes, carrots, celery and onions. You can add whatever additional vegetables you have around and are in season. I’m prone to using bell peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, and spinach. I vary based on what’s available locally and venture to the broader (Ontario) local food group to fill out the rest.

Adaptable Tomato Sauce

  • Carrots- Finely Chopped
  • Celery- Chopped
  • Onions- Chopped
  • Tomatoes- Chopped or Canned Crushed Tomatoes
  • Tomato Paste
  • Olive Oil
  • Dry or Fresh Thyme, Parsley, Oregano (any one or a combination)
  • Bay Leaves
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Additional Vegetables (Mushrooms, Bell Peppers, Zucchini)- Chopped

The carrots are important, because their sweetness helps to balance out the acidity of the tomatoes.

If you are browning something and it starts to get away from you *ahem*, buy yourself some time, and rescue your meal by throwing in a splash of water. It will cool down the pot/pan, dissolve the brown bits on the bottom, and then evaporate away.

If you prefer a smooth sauce to a chunky one, add the veg at the same time as the tomatoes and puree when done.

Also, if you are using fresh herbs, this is the time to throw them in.

I was looking for the veg to add some texture to this dish (artisan ravioli from Wendy’s Mobile Market), so I only cooked the sauce for another 10 minutes or so. When I use this sauce for lasagna I cook it longer.

A great trick when making pasta: drain it when it is still a few minutes shy of being done, and finish cooking it in a pot of sauce. The flavor of the sauce absorbs into the pasta.

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