Whilst clearing out my former pantry yesterday, I found a case of tomato sauce / puree from my last warehouse run. As I am not about to just toss it into the dumpster, I’ll pull together a couple of posts on how to use.
Tomato sauce (also known as Neapolitan sauce, and Salsa di pomodoro in Italian) can refer to a large number of different sauces made primarily from tomatoes, usually to be served as part of a dish, rather than as a condiment. Tomato sauces are common for meat and vegetables, but they are perhaps best known as sauces for pasta dishes. Tomatoes have a rich flavor, high water content, soft flesh which breaks down easily, and the right composition to thicken into a sauce when they are cooked (without the need of thickeners such as roux). All of these qualities make them ideal for simple and appealing sauces.
The most common use of the term tomato sauce in New Zealand and South Africa is to describe a popular, commercially produced condiment, that is a type of Table Sauce, similar to American ketchup but without vinegar, typically applied to foods such as meat pies, sausages, other cooked meat, (in particular Steak) and Fish and chips. Tomato-based sauces served with pasta would commonly be referred to as “pasta sauce” or “Napoletana sauce”
Your basic tomato sauce is pretty bland stuff, we need to pump it up a bit. I’m thinking a mirepoix, sweated until it takes on some color, perhaps some roasted garlic, maybe a touch of Cajun Trinity (a mirepoix, where the carrots are replaced with bell pepper), and of course fresh herbs.
As I also have tomato paste from the same shopping run, I’ll add some, just to deepen the tomato flavor, and boost the consistency.
Always test your basic canned sauce, open it and dip a clean finger in, taste it, does it taste good, or is it bitter? If it is bitter, find a better brand of sauce / tomato puree, dump this can, you WILL NOT LIKE the resultant sauce.
Bitter tomato sauce usually comes from cooking tomatoes with the seeds, AKA crushed tomatoes, or diced. As always good food starts with good ingredients.
A general comment, even in canned food, ESPECIALLY in canned food, get good quality, watch the ingredient list, and double, triple check the sodium content… In this case my tomato sauce has nothing, but tomatoes, salt, basil, and citric acid.