Late summer is the season for tomato sauce. Evan Kleiman shows you how to make it

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To make tomato sauce, use extra virgin olive oil, fresh tomatoes, garlic and salt. Photo by Pixabay. Image by Aline Ponce from Pixabay

Summer tomatoes will soon be leaving the markets, so it’s a good time to make sauce. It’s simple to do, but there are a couple of tricks. Use enough extra virgin olive oil because it adds flavor and texture. If using red tomatoes, the finished sauce should be a bit orange-red from the oil. Stir the sauce frequently, so the solids distribute evenly throughout the liquid as it reduces. Reduce the sauce enough that it will adhere to the pasta. 

The best summer tomato sauce is simple. Evan Kleiman’s version has extra virgin olive oil, fresh tomatoes, garlic and salt. Depending on her mood, she may add basil or good dry Sicilian oregano.

As for the pasta, quality matters. Also how you cook it. Do not add oil to the cooking water. Do add salt. For people who are backing off their salt consumption, it’s better to leave it out of the sauce rather than the pasta. If people want to splurge on a comfort food, they can treat themselves to really well-made dry pasta. The texture is as satisfying as meat. 

For a locally-produced pasta, Kleiman likes Semolina Artisanal Pasta made by Leah Ferrazzani. 

Her three favorite high-quality Italian pastas are Martelli for spaghetti and maccheroni (which is more like rigatoni in their case); Benedetto Cavalieri spaghettoni (extra thick spaghetti), bucatini and ruote pazze (crazy wheels); and Faella for short cuts.

Recipe: Fresh Tomato Basil Sauce

  • 6 large red-ripe tomatoes
  • ¼ - ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • Pinch of red chile pepper flakes
  • 5-6 large fresh basil leaves
  • Salt to taste

-Remove the stems of the tomatoes and cut in half crosswise. If using regular round tomatoes, remove most of the seeds, using your fingers.  These tomatoes tend to have excess liquid and seeds. Cut the tomatoes into quarters. Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet over moderate heat. Add the garlic and red chile flakes. As soon as the garlic gives off its aroma and becomes opaque, add the tomatoes. Cook over high heat until the tomatoes begin to thicken. Use a wooden spoon to stir and help break up the tomato pulp. Add the basil, either whole or roughly chopped, and salt. When the sauce is cooked, remove it from the heat and put it through a food mill using the medium disk. This will remove the skins and create a completely smooth texture. If you don’t have a food mill use a whisk to remove the skins.

Recipe: Chunky Tomato Sauce

  • 6 large red-ripe tomatoes
  • ¼ - ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • Pinch of red chile pepper flakes
  • 2 large fresh basil leaves
  • Salt to taste

-Bring a small pot of water to boil. While you’re waiting for it to boil, put some ice in a bowl and add water so you create a water bath to plunge the hot tomatoes. Once the water comes to a boil, add the tomatoes one at a time. When the water returns to the boil, count to 10 and then remove it and put it in the ice water. Continue until all tomatoes have been blanched.

-Cut out the stem end and pull off the now loosened skins. 

-Discard the ice water. 

-Cut each peeled tomato in half through the equator. Squeeze out and discard the seeds. Or you can simply use a finger to dislodge the seeds.  

-Dice the peeled and seeded tomatoes.

-Heat the extra-virgin olive oil in a skillet over moderate heat. Add the garlic and red chile flakes. As soon as the garlic gives off its aroma and becomes opaque, add the chopped tomatoes, the basil, and salt. Cover the pan and cook over medium heat until the tomatoes give up their juice.

-Remove the lid and cook the sauce over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until the tomatoes begin to thicken. If you need to, use a wooden spoon or a potato masher to stir and help break up the tomatoes.