Saturday, February 26, 2011

simple rustic tomato sauce recipe

I'm not quite sure where to start today's post. So much has happened in the past week that I'm almost lost for words.
It seems almost selfish to be carrying on with life, writing about homemade tomato sauce when the people of Christchurch have had their lives turned upside down for the second time in only 5 months. But where the last earthquake only left destruction of buildings and homes, this time it has been fatal. My heart breaks as I read about the lives lost and the harrowing ordeal that others have endured. On the flip-side there have been some amazing and somewhat tear-jerking tales of survival. That leaves you wondering how? I watched with wet eyes last night as the news told of a young woman that was rescued after 6 hours of being trapped in the crumpled building where she worked. She had been communicating via text with her fiancĂ© while still trapped. Could you imagine that? They were due to get married yesterday and you know what? Against all odds, they still went ahead with the ceremony. My heart goes out to that couple, and all the other survivors, but most importantly my heart and thoughts go out to those families still searching for their loved ones. Kia kaha, be strong.

See what I mean? How does one go from such heavy, heart breaking news to talking about tomato sauce? Here goes.

Right now we are reaching the peak of our tomato season and if you, like us, have many tomatoes growing in your gardens, you may be searching for ways to use up the surplus. I usually make batches of tomato kasundi, which I then sell at our local markets, but with so little time available before we move to Perth this is what I've been cooking up instead.

This year we grew mostly beef steak tomatoes (which you may remember, from when I wrote a post on how to grow tomatoes from seed?), but we also put in a few other little gems; yellow pear-cherry tomatoes, a stripy heirloom one, with seedling from my Nana, and one black krim tomato too. This was the first year we have grown them, and while I'm not so much a fan of their strong flavour and soft flesh, for eating, they are the perfect tomato for cooking and especially for making tomato sauce, of any kind.
They grow huge deep red fruit with green seeds, and while they will never win a prize for the best looking tomato, their huge size means you only need a few to make this sauce. That one above weighed in at a whopping 450g! The skins of some of them have cracked due to all this hot/cold, wet/dry weather we have been getting.

Everything, bar the olive oil and sugar, was picked fresh from our garden. We managed to harvest a few little red onions that decided to bulb up at the last second, along with a few heads of garlic and a handful of fresh basil from our lovely next-door neighbours. Perfect.

I've been making this sauce all summer, and simply freezing it in batches. Its perfect stirred into pasta, or my latest favorite; as a base sauce for gluten-free pizza.
Speaking of gluten-free pizza. I am flying down to Wellington tomorrow, and will be cooking gluten-free pizza and a few recipes from my blog on the Good Morning show sometime between 9am-12pm on Monday morning (28th Feb). At this stage we are not 100% sure if the Good Morning show will be on air again, as there has been all-day coverage of the earthquake on TV1. I will still be recording though, so if it's not going to be live-to-air, it will air sometime next month. If you are around on Monday, tune in and check it out :-)

I've kept this as a base recipe to which you could then go in a variety of different directions. By all means add a finely chopped red chilli for a bit of heat, or play around with the herbs; thyme or oregano would also be lovely, as would some roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley.

Lastly, thank you all for you lovely comments and emails regarding our surprise wedding. It was a truly special day. I hope to do a post with more about the day, including a few photos and the recipe for my gluten-free wedding cake soon. But realistically (with all that is happening and with our computer not working-I'm on Dad's right now), I think it will have to wait until we get to Perth.

simple rustic tomato sauce recipe
Now, just a little note on preparing the tomatoes. Usually I don't bother with peeling them, especially if they are knobbly ones like our black krims, but if you prefer to not have pieces of skin in your sauce, here's what you need to do. Remove the core from each tomato using a small sharp knife, make a little cross-cross at the other (smooth) end of the tomato, just cutting through the skin. Plunge into boiling water and leave for 20-30 seconds, before removing with a slotted spoon. Refresh in cold water and the skin should peel off really easily.
Makes 1 ¾ cups.

  • ¼ cup (40ml) olive oil
  • 1 medium (80g) red onion finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 kg fresh tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped fresh basil leaves
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon raw unrefined sugar

Heat olive oil in a heavy-based medium pot. Add onion and cook over medium heat, stirring often until translucent (approx 10 minutes). Add the garlic and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes, continuing to stir often.

Add tomatoes and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for about 45-60mins, or until the mixture is thick. Stir in the basil, cook, stirring occasionally, for a further 10 minutes. Season well with sea salt and black pepper, and add sugar. Cool and store in the fridge for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 6 months.


  1. good luck on telly Em.
    Those are some eccentric looking tomatoes there, just how they should be!

  2. I understand completely how you feel. Some call it survivor's guilt, but I like to think that any empathetic human being would take a moment of pause at such a devastatingly tragic event such as this. It certainly makes one appreciate life and not waste time on unimportant things. Which brings me to your tomato sauce. Food gives us strength and it also comforts us at times like this. This recipe served over whatever will be the ultimate comfort food. So I personally think you could not have chosen a more appropriate recipe to write about.

  3. This looks great Emm, and I really like that there's not much sugar in it. I will make this with my next batch of tomatoes (sigh). Good luck for the tv thing - I will be taping it. xxx
    Just heard that the death toll is 146 with more than 200 still missing - just ghastly.

  4. Hi Emma, great to have discovered your blog. Your tomatoes are so handsome! You may find some GF recipes that take your fancy on my site, Please send me a pic and recipe of one of your baking creations if you like, for Bake Club, and we can cross-link. I plan to try your afghans soon. Cheers, Frances


Thanks so much for stopping by, arohanui xx Emm

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