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I grew up eating lots of pasta dishes with red sauce, maybe because Mom knew they were meals no one would complain about, and she had three notoriously picky eaters to contend with. Over the years, I’ve experimented with different ways of making tomato sauce, from using canned ingredients to starting with whole tomatoes. Regular tomatoes, when puréed, are way too watery and take forever to reduce to a sauce. But this year, I tried using smaller tomatoes such as cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes, and I got awesome results with little effort.

sauce 1

cooking in the pan

Sprouts puts these tiny cherry or grape tomatoes on sale every now and then, in one-pint containers. This sauce uses two pints, plus red onion or shallots (chopped), a bulb of garlic (peeled and chopped), dried rosemary, a dash of cumin, sea salt, freshly ground white & black peppercorns, and serrano peppers (chopped). I used three serranos, and the sauce was way too hot, so one pepper would be sufficient unless you enjoy breaking into a sweat and having a runny nose while eating.

sauce 2

top view of cooked mixture in a container to be puréed

In a large pan with a generous amount of olive oil, sauté the onions, garlic, and peppers until soft, add the whole tomatoes and seasoning, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Stir often. When the tomatoes get super soft, you can smash them for fun, but don’t do it too early or you will spray hot tomato juice all over the place and end up hating life.

sauce 3

side view of cooked mixture waiting to be puréed

That’s about all there is to it. The final step is to purée the mix with an immersion blender. You end up with about three cups of sauce. Of all my tomato sauce experiments over the years, this one is my favorite, and I’ve made it three times in the past couple months.

sauce 4

the final form