The Raw and the Cooked
There are three basic styles of sauces:
Long simmering sauces achieve a rich, complex flavor.
Barely-cooked sauces have a lighter flavor more recognizable of fresh tomatoes, but a little bit of cooking softens the tomatoes and brings out their sweetness.
Uncooked sauces are bright and refreshing, and are best made with thoroughly ripe summer tomatoes.
Long and Luscious
Long-simmered tomato sauce is delicious any time of year. Extended cooking thickens the sauce as the water cooks off; and long simmering melds flavors together. Any other vegetables you add to the sauce will become richer and sweeter the longer they cook.
- When fresh tomatoes are out of season, it’s perfectly fine to use canned tomatoes.
- During the summer, turn a bumper crop of ripe tomatoes into a long-simmered tomato sauce.
- Cooking time can range from two hours to all day, depending on how thick and caramelized you like your sauce.
- Make a big batch, eat some for dinner, and pour the rest into freezer-safe containers for the coming months. Then, simply thaw it as needed; you can add any fresh herbs, spices, veggies, or meats desired.
Short and Sweet
Barely-cooked tomato sauce is best when tomatoes are at their ripest. Briefly cooking the sauce helps retain the tomatoes’ fresh, tart-sweet taste, but also heats them long enough to add depth of flavor. Caramelize some onions, sauté garlic, and simmer herbs long enough to infuse the sauce with their flavors.
Raw and Refreshing
Raw tomato sauce makes for a wonderfully refreshing summertime meal. To make it, use fresh tomatoes at their peak of ripeness, when they are sweet and juicy and bursting with flavor. The process is easy:
- Seed your tomatoes (peeling is optional, in this case) and chop them.
- Alternately, you can cut the tomatoes into quarters, seed them, and then grate them with a cheese grater for a smoother, juicier sauce.
- Raw tomato sauce only needs to be seasoned with extra virgin olive oil, fresh herbs (basil or parsley are best), and some salt and pepper.
- Toasted pine nuts add texture and richness.
Raw sauce can be eaten right away–tossed with pasta, spooned over grilled meats and vegetables, mounded on lightly toasted or grilled bread, spread on pizza crust, or whatever else sounds good to you. And if you’ve got a little time, let your raw sauce sit for a few hours to give the flavors a chance to blend and deepen.