French Mother Sauce
” Tomato Sauce”
Kitchen Basics Series
When making quality basic homemade tomato sauce the key is to buy the best tomatoes you can find. Might sound obvious, but it can be overlooked. Fun idea, the next time you decide to make more homemade tomato sauce check out one the farmer’s markets in your area. Connecting with our food is just plain fun and we get a special sense of pride knowing we did the best we could. Let’s talk about some tomato facts and health benefits.
Beautiful aren’t they? These are organic greenhouse vine ripped tomatoes. Have you ever wondered why they ripen on the vine? From the moment they are picked they start to denature. This is when the tomatoes start to give off nitrogen and age. This is a good thing 🙂 As this process is happening the tomatoes are actually getting sweeter through the process. Just like with bananas sitting out on the counter and turning the darker color on the peel. Or when Avocados, from the grocery, is hard as a rock, but in a short few days, they’re perfect. As cooks, we all want to make the best food we can. With denaturing in mind this gives us additional Cheffing powers with our food creations. In the case of tomatoes, be sure to buy the tomatoes a few days before you’re ready to make your next batch of homemade tomato sauce and let them sit on the corner. They will get sweeter by the day. Cool, right?
Which is it? Are Tomatoes a Fruit or a Vegetable?
So what’s the real difference between fruits and vegetables? Which is which?
In short, fruits have seeds
The way botanists see it, a fruit is an entity that develops from the fertilized ovary of a flower. Ok? This means that tomatoes, squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, peppers, eggplants, corn kernels, and beans and pea pods are all fruits; so are apples, pears, peaches, apricots, melons and mangos.
Vegetables, botanically, are any edible part of a plant that doesn’t happen to be a fruit, as in leaves (spinach, lettuce, cabbage), roots (carrots, beets, turnips), stems (asparagus), tubers (potatoes), bulbs (onions), and flowers (cauliflower and broccoli).
Culturally speaking the world over calls tomatoes both a fruit and a vegetable.
Could you imagine being on “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” and getting the question, “Are tomatoes a fruit or vegetable? and whichever answer you gave they call it wrong…The subject of “Are tomatoes fruit or vegetable” is still open for discussion.
When trying to eat healthy here’s a little tip to top health. Brighter fruits and vegetables equal really strong health properties, and red happens to one of the very top in this line of thinking. The homemade tomato sauce we are making today is a simple, yet very on-point in flavor and with respect to our ingredients. Ok, we got it, great ingredients; but there is always more to the story. We cannot forget about our good friend “Technique”.
If you think about it, cooking is first love on a plate, and all around good technique.
Tomatoes offer a wide range of health benefits, one being weight loss. A pretty good little piece of food knowledge to know. The list goes on. We hear a lot about flavonoids and antioxidants being able to neutralize harmful free radicals in the body. Lycopene shows up in a big way in tomatoes. This flavonoid antioxidant has the ability to protect the cells even as it protects the skin from ultraviolet damage, and as a possible result, skin cancer.
The Making of Homemade Tomato Sauce
- Organic Tomatoes if you can find them
- Vidalia Onion / Spanish Onion / 1015 Onion
- Parsley / Basil / Oregano
- Sea Salt
Cook Culinary Fact About Onions
I’m going to guess some of you may not have heard of a 1015 onion before. One day you’ll be in a restaurant reading a menu and see the label of 1015 onion. So what does it mean? The 1015 Texas Sweet Onion is considered the sweetest onion in the world and has the nickname of the million dollar onion from the cost associated with the college A&M’s time and money spent on development. The reason they are called 1015 is they have to be planted before October 15th each year to be ready for the spring harvest.
You will want to remove the skins from the tomatoes. This could be a nightmare with poor technique. No worries. To remove the skins from the tomatoes boil some water and also cut an “X” in the bottom of all the tomatoes. (Opposite end of the tomato the wine was attached Add the tomatoes to the boiling water and wait about 90 seconds. Yep, that quick, and the skins will be pulling back on themselves. Makes for super easy skin removal.
From there, dice half of one large onion and add it to a pot over medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of olive oil (helps the butter not burn)
Sweat the onions for a few minutes, until they start to release their water. When the onions start to take on a little color add in the tomatoes and crush them up in the pot. You could squeeze them in your hands as you add them to the pot. Cook the onions and tomatoes for about 15 minutes.
What we are making is a homemade tomato sauce ‘Base”. The idea is not to add a bunch of flavors to the sauce. Why not? The reason is the sauce becomes way more valuable in your choices of use. If the sauce is already flavored you will be limited in its uses. Just add the flavors you want when using the tomato sauce and tailor it to your needs.
You could add oregano, parsley, basil, a pinch of sugar. Before you start cooking the onions add some red wine to the pot and reduce by a little bit more than half. Adds great flavor. Another thing to consider is color. The homemade tomato sauce “Base” we are making will have more of a lighter color. The reason is when we blender the sauce to a smooth sauce bit of air gets incorporated. Lightens the color. If you decide to cook the tomato sauce for a long period of time the sauce will start to darken for you. The reason is the tomatoes start to gain a dark deep color from the natural sugars in the tomatoes as they start caramelizing.
Adding in tomato paste also helps achieve the dark color much quicker.
- 6 medium Tomatoes
- 1/2 of Large Onion Vidalia Onions are my choice
- Pinch of Salt
- 3/4 Teaspoon Oregano
- 3 Basil Leafs whole
- 5 Sprigs of Parsley
- Tablespoon Tomato paste
- Poblano Pepper Personal favorite to include
- Take a pairing knife and mark/cut "X"s in toe bottoms of the Tomatoes ( The opposite end the vine was connected to )
- Boil pot of water
- Place tomatoes into hot water for around 90 seconds, or till the peel starts to come off.
- Peel all tomatoes and cut into quarters
- Chop Onion medium size
- Remove water from pot and add one tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- Sweat the onion for 3 minutes then add the tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes
- Next, use a blender or immersion blender and blend until smooth. This is where you would want to add any additional flavors like oregano, parsley, basil. Just be careful to not add too much.
- Add smooth tomatoes puree back to the pot and cook till desired consistency.
- You could add tomato paste at this point for a deeper color or just cook the sauce awhile and the sauce will darken in color.
Easy Homemade Tomato Sauce – French Technique
Chef Steven Pennington
Le Cordon Bleu Chef sharing food adventures from around the world with a style of cooking rooted in southwestern flavors using French culinary technique.