I brought the leftovers of this dish to the office for lunch, and so many people came to my desk and asked, "Your lunch smells so good, where did you buy it?". When I confessed it was tomato sauce made from fresh tomatoes one person called me a food elitist. Now I hate to classify people, but if using the fresh version of a readily available staple ingredient makes me a food snob, then I am guilty as charged. When did a fresh tomato become an elitist product? Have we as society so embraced jarred tomato sauce that we have forgotten the taste of real tomato? There is nothing wrong with using jarred sauces when in a pinch, but such convenience should not be mistaken for the real flavor of a tomato. There are some very good brands of canned puree that make a decent sauce, but nothing compares to fresh vine ripened tomatoes from the garden. Now it's April in Michigan with no tomatoes in sight. I have a stash of puree from last summer in the freezer. I am too lazy to can and find that freezing the juice, pulp and seeds is just fine for this sauce.
When using real tomato products that haven't been processed, you need less fillers and dried herbs which means a more pronounced flavor. This sauce relies on the natural tomato flavor and is very easy to make. I like the mild flavor that the shallot and garlic bring as these flavors complement the tomato rather than over powering it. What I like best is this sauce actually adheres well to the pasta. It coats the noodle without overpowering the pasta. With so many people pressed to cut corners, why not leave the overpriced jarred stuff at the store and pick up the real thing and experience a simple tomato sauce?
Fresh Tomato Sauce
Yields 6 cups
8 cups pureed garden ripened tomatoes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 shallots, minced
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons ground pepper
pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
In a large sauce pan heat the olive oil. Add the shallots and garlic and cook until fragrant for a minute or 2. Add red wine and cook for an additional minute until alcohol burns off. Mix in the tomato puree. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and lower heat to a simmer. Cook until sauce has reduced in half about 30-45 minutes. Check the seasoning, add additional salt and pepper if needed. Serve with pasta or rice.