THE ULTIMATE TOMATO SAUCE
If you’d like my best advice on how to learn Italian, here it is: just walk into any shop in Italy and ask the first person you see how to make a tomato sauce. It takes courage to get started, but pretty soon, you will find yourself surrounded by a dozen people all extolling the virtues of their variation of the recipe. Passions run high since ‘sugo al pomodoro’ is used everywhere – on pasta, on gnocchi, on pizza and in baked dishes like melanzana parmigiana. This (admittedly unusual) language learning method means you learn not only the words, but also the recipes and the all important gesticulations – and even a bit of yelling – that make the Italian language so vibrant and satisfying. Oh and the sauce itself? Well it’s best made fresh – and there’s no excuse really as it’s a doddle – but you can freeze it if you want an emergency back up.
- 6 tsp Extra virgin olive oil
- 2 medium onions
- 800 g tinned Italian plum tomatoes
- 1 tsp Dried oregano
- couple of sprigs Fresh basil
- 3 cloves Garlic
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Milk or sugar to taste
- Pour a generous amount of olive oil into a non-stick pan and heat it up. Finely chop the onions and add them, with a generous pinch of salt and grind of pepper. Stir. When the onions begin to colour add half a glass of water and cover. Let them cook for a few minutes at very low heat so they become nice and soft and will melt into the sauce later on.
- Add the plum tomatoes and using a wooden spoon mush them to a pulp (or use a tin of chopped tomatoes, but I rather enjoy the tomato squashing). Once all mushed up, squeeze in the garlic, add the dried oregano and a few leaves of fresh basil. Check again for seasoning and either add a splash of milk or a good pinch of sugar to take off the tang.
- Let this cook, uncovered, on a very low heat for at least 30 minutes. The sauce will thicken up, so stir occasionally, and add more water if it gets too thick. Again check for seasoning and if the sauce is slightly acidy add a touch more sugar or milk.
- Like all the best Italian secrets, it is simplicity itself.