I’d never have dreamed of making Tomato Sauce from scratch, but Fabio got me with, “so simple I don’t even call it cooking.”
Who knew that something so simple could be sooo good—and surprisingly satisfying to make yourself. I love the chunks of tomato and fresh basil, and it’s way tastier and healthier than any sodium-laden sauce you’ll find at the store.
Fabio’s Tip: Use canned—not fresh—tomatoes, for better texture and consistent flavor.
Believe the hype about San Marzano tomatoes being special, because they really are.
Don’t fall for the “San Marzano Style” variety—not the same!
Don’t do what I did and try to use the actual spoon (not the back of the spoon, as he instructed) to smash the tomatoes; one burst open and squirted boiling liquid onto me.
I found my Epicurian flat spatula (one of my favorite cooking tools) easier to use. But if you don’t have one, the back of your wooden spoon will do the job.
This is definitely a time to bust out the high quality EVOO. I’ve used Trader Giotto’s Sicilian Selezione Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Kirkland Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Tuscany, and both were fantastic.
That’s Kosher salt in the sugar bowl. (I got that trick from Alton Brown)
I did add a pinch of sugar at the end, because it tasted a little acidic to me.
Smashing the garlic makes it easier to peel, and releases its oils, without making it too small and easy to burn.
This recipe produces two delicious cups of sauce, in which you cook Fabio’s Mom’s Meatballs >>
Click here for my book review and Fabio’s Cooking Demo at Cafe Firenze
- Epicurean Flat Spatula – Sur La Table
- Mario Batali 6-Quart Dutch Oven
- 6 cloves garlic
- 8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 28-oz can of whole plum tomatoes, packed only in tomato juice (recommended: San Marzano)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 10 basil leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar, to taste
- Smash the garlic with the back of a knife. (This makes it easier to peel and releases its oils, but doesn't make it so small that it burns easily.)
- Place the garlic and 5 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch Oven and cook over medium heat until the garlic is golden brown, stirring and turning them often to make sure the garlic doesn't burn.
- Add the tomatoes and generous pinches (3 finger pinch, as Fabio would say) of salt and pepper.
- Cook over medium-high heat until the sauce is thick and no longer watery, about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil and turn the heat to high. Stir, crushing the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon or a hard, flat spatula. (See Cool Tools) Be careful as the oil is very hot and can splatter. The tomatoes should still be quite chunky—especially if you're still going to cook meatballs in the sauce for another 20 minutes.
- Cook until the oil turns red, then turn off the heat, and add the basil at the very end. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if necessary. If tart, add 1/4 teaspoon sugar at a time.
- This makes 2 cups of sauce.
- You can double or triple the recipe and freeze the extra in Ziploc bags for up to 6 months.