For many years I've used the Basil Tomato Sauce by itself and in combination (the Red Pepper Sauce and a rich complex ragu type spaghetti sauce that I have used the puree in as well). But I wanted to explore some other options.
Perhaps I was the last
The essence of the recipe is that it is startlingly simple and completely at odds with the palette of "Italian" flavors that we have become (perhaps too) familiar. It consists of tomatoes, butter (not olive oil!), salt, and an onion that is removed before serving.
|One onion, five tablespoons of butter - that's it.|
Apparently many people have made this with canned San Marzano tomatoes. But I wanted to use my own tomatoes and I didn't want to keep all the seeds or to remove them by hand.
A friend who likes to make and can a huge amount of tomato sauce each year tipped me off to the use of a device often called a "sauce master" that uses a screw-type action and a screen to separate juice and pulp from seeds and skin. There are several stand-alone versions but I found that my KitchenAid stand mixer has an attachment (the Fruit & Vegetable Strainer) which works much better.
Using this attachment, I produced 3 quarts of thin tomato purée from 6 pounds of very ripe tomatoes. This then has to be concentrated slightly before using by cooking at low to moderate heat for about an hour, which reduces it to about half the volume. I then used 3 cups of this (a total of 3 pounds of tomatoes!) to produce about 2 cups of dense sauce that is the very essence of tomato. A little Parmesan, a little pasta, and you have a meal. (This sauce does not have the faintly caramelized taste one obtains with tomato paste.)
|Note the lush thickness of the sauce and how it adheres to the pasta. (Click on the image to get a closer look.)|
Using a KitchenAid stand mixer with Fruit & Vegetable Strainer attachment
|Three quarts of tomato purée from six pounds of tomatoes|
NOTE: If you use Roma-type paste tomatoes instead of the more watery round tomatoes, the resulting puree is thick enough to use directly without concentrating it first.