How to Make the Perfect Base for a Tomato Sauce
June 5, 2012
Today I want to share my favorite base for tomato sauce. Using this easy mix of onions, garlic, and spices, you can quickly whip together a pizza sauce or a slow-cooking tomato sauce for pasta.
Chop an onion and a few cloves of garlic. Since we're making a base, increase or decrease the amount of onions and garlic depending on how large of a batch of sauce you need to make. (I included more info on this in the recipe itself.)
Heat olive oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Add onions. The onions should sizzle when they hit the oil.
Cook until they soften. For this recipe, we don't want the onions to turn brown. Soft and light are what we want at this stage. Be sure to stir frequently as the onions cook.
Add the garlic. Stir it all together. Since garlic takes less time to cook than onions, it would burn if we started it along with the onions. Staggering the cooking prevents the garlic from burning. And since burnt garlic tastes awful taking the time to do this is well worth it.
Cook until the garlic just begins to turn brown. The onions are soft and almost yellow-brown at this point.
Add the basil, oregano, and hot red pepper flakes. Stir. Remember, this is a base. You can always adjust the spices later, adding fresh herbs right before serving your sauce, if you wish.
Now add the salt and--dare I say it--sugar. Yes, sugar! You only use a little and, I promise, it adds a nice "roundness" to the sauce without making it sweet. (I don't like sweet sauce either.)
Now add butter. Oh, yes! This recipe contains butter. It's an odd ingredient in tomato sauce, I know. But the richness of the butter adds a little something that's really nice. If you aren't dairy-allergic, I encourage you to add the butter. If you're dairy-free, just skip it.
Cook until butter melts. Stir frequently. The onions, garlic, and spices cooking together produce my favorite scent in the world. No matter how many times I make this, I am still smitten by the aroma. (Can you get smitten by an aroma? Let's say yes!)
At this point, the base is done! Done diddly done! Wasn't that quick?
Now it's time to create a sauce from that great base. Like any good base, you can create the right sauce you need at the moment.
For this recipe, I needed a quick, chunky pizza sauce. One small can (14.5 ounces) of petite diced tomatoes were perfect for the job. If you don't need a pizza sauce, you could add tomato puree or tomato sauce or fresh tomatoes. The base works with any tomatoes. It's that good.
How do you make tomato sauce? Do you start with a base? Let us know in the comments!