Tomato sauces

Joined May 25, 2010
When I try to make a good tomato sauce at home I am always disappointed. What I really want to accomplish is a sauce that is similar to what I find in some Italian restuarants where the sauce is really bright red, not dark like you seem to get using canned tomatoes. I kinda doubt that the restaurants are using fresh tomatos all the time...

The consistency is a real fine sauce with no tomato chunks and it taste quite fresh.

Any ideas how to duplicate this?

Joined Apr 3, 2008
I usually use canned tomatoes, but if you don't want to you can either stem and roast or stem and dip into boiling water to remove the outer skin of your  tomatoes. if roasting, I add olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic cloves, leeks and red onion to the pan and roast them all at the same time.

once the skins are removed add all your ingredients along with some thyme and rosemary, to a large pot and enough water to cover and let simmer giving time to let the flavors meld a bit.

using an immersion blender you then blend it all together, once blended nicely strain through a fine mesh pushing it through with a wooden spoon. This will eliminate large chunks you may have missed and strain out seeds.  have fun. 
Joined Jan 5, 2007
I suspect that you need to look into the quality of various tinned tomatoes.  Best Italian tomatoes should give you a 'red' sauce.
Joined Dec 4, 2009
The really rich red "tomato sauces" spooned up in every Italian restaurant I've been in involve using canned tomatoes and tomato paste.  My grandmother did the same.

There are, of course, the fresh tomato sauces ("il pomodoro") that are simply fresh tomatoes, minimally processed and cooked.  Some herbs and it's done.  But not intensely red.

Joined Feb 13, 2008
Looks like it's time for a re-post.

(Makes 6 cups)

Here's something very easy and kickback; I originally wrote it for someone who, although not a beginner himself, liked very simple recipes. You may want to tweak it with some red pepper flakes. Dress it down with some grilled meat, preferably sausage in onions and peppers, and some garlic toast on the side.

If you like you can call it, ASugo for Honorary [email protected]

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbs tomato paste
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 28 oz can plum or (preferably) San Marzano tomatoes, whole, peeled and seeded; or, 1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes (see Note.)
3 tbs sugar, divided
1 glass red wine
2 tsp instant coffee
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano or marjoram
1 tbs salt, divided

Drain the tomatoes, reserve the juice, and rough chop the tomatoes.

Saute the onions on medium high heat in olive oil until sweated and just beginning to brown. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, two minutes at most. Add the tomato paste, and move the vegetables through it. Cook until the paste darkens, another three or four minutes.

Add the tomatoes, half the juice, reduce the heat to medium, and bring to a simmer. Adjust the flame to hold a medium simmer. Add 2 tbs sugar, the wine, the instant coffee (or a shot of espresso) and the pepper flakes. Simmer 15 minutes, until wine is cooked.

Taste and adjust for sugar and wine. Add the herbs, crumbling them into the sauce. Let simmer another 15 minutes.

Taste and adjust for herbs, and salt. It may not need any salt, depending on the type of tomatoes ues. Continue to simmer until the tomatoes are almost, but not completely melted. Probably another half hour, altogether. If sauce is too thick, thin with the remaining juice, water, and/or wine as desired.

This sugo is as unadorned as can be, add anything that tickles your fancy.

Note: This sauce will be slightly chunky. It may be milled, sieved, processed, blended or otherwise pureed to smooth it. Alternatively, it may be made with crushed tomatoes instead of whole.

If you=re making this for pasta B and you darn well better try it sometime B the beverages of choice would be beer or cheap red. Think juicy ‑‑ Chianti, Barolo, Zin, Barb, "Big House Red," and other wallet‑buddies.

Buon apetito!

PS. This recipe is original with me. If you like it and want to share it (but not for gain) with someone else, you have my permission on condition you attribute it to me, Boar D. Laze. I would consider it a kindness if you would also mention my eventually to be finished book, COOK FOOD GOOD, American Cooking and Technique for Beginners and Intermediates.
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Joined May 25, 2010
Thanks. Can't imagine what the coffee does for it (especially since I don't like coffee) but I'll give it a try.

Joined May 2, 2010
I thoroughly dislike coffee, but used as a sort of "spice"  does works wonders in a way that adds depth of flavour, also in a beef Chilli,  trust me on this!   /img/vbsmilies/smilies/thumb.gif
Joined Apr 3, 2008
Of what restaurants do you speak of?  Are we talking mom and pop italian restaurants here or are we talking Olive Garden?  There's a big difference of course.

Fresh tomatoes are hard to come by in certain months, and not necessarily worth the expense when they're not in season.  Finding a good canned tomato is worth researching until you find what you like.  I've had very good luck with Muir Glen organic tomatoes.  Adding a little tomato paste also helps in making your sauce red.

When I do find beautiful ripe tomatoes I buy as many as I can afford and roast them in the oven, crush them with my hand held blender and then store in ziploc bags in the freezer.  Those last me well through the fall.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
Ironic, KK. I really like the Muir Glenn fire roasted tomatoes, but find their others on the bland side.

Go figure.
Joined May 25, 2010
I'm thinking of sauce like served at the Cheesecake Factory or Bravos. I've used several different brands of tomatoes but perhaps it is more in the prep or cooking method than ingredients.

Joined Feb 1, 2007

Why don't you share with us what ingredients you use and your method, and maybe we can come up with better ideas for you.
Joined Nov 5, 2007
Well drat - brain fart time.  I was going to recommend some canned tomatoes, 6 in 1, but for the life of me can't remember the name of the place in California that produces them.  They are labeled as ground tomatoes, not crushed.  They have a very good flavor, I use them as the base for my pizza sauce.  I just don't have any on hand at the moment.  Time for a web search.  And time to pick up some more cans later this week.

Okay, found it:

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Joined Apr 3, 2010
Home I use half San Marzano, and half fresh skin and seeded  off italian plum.. At work we spec  Red Pack California brand. I use no sugar. To kill acidity, if  needed I use a pinch of baking soda. Depending on that particular years harvest how much acid in tomato. It varies harvest and packing time. I also use only fresh basil and oregano that I grow..
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Joined May 25, 2010
I usually follow the recipes in the many itialian cookbooks I have, using either diced (del monte) or whole. I've also used the crushed and whole San Marzano with about the same results. The recipes usually just involve cooking these ingredients for 20-40 minutes and you are done. None of them ever come out with the bright red, kinda fresh ground tomato consistency that I'm refering to.

I'm not really sure as to when/why to use crushed vs diced vs whole in a recipe.

Joined Feb 26, 2007
As Koukouvagia says, a little tomato paste in the sauce helps a lot.  Give that a try.

Might I suggest the restaurant may be adding some tinned tomato soup?  This is always a very bright red....just a thought.

I would also think it is being sieved (so as you say - no chunks) then thickened or reduced and served.

It's kind of like making a velvety pumpkin/sweet potato  soup:  cook it, blend it, sieve it.  Thicken if needed.

  Made one yesterday.  It didn't need thickening as it had cooked down thick enough before blending.  It was so soft but still thick.  Looking forward to some more for supper tonight.  Yeah, I made a huge batch.

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