Today we’re preparing a super simple fresh tomato sauce, a recipe that every home cook should have in their repertoire. It’s a great ‘base recipe’ that can be embellished on almost endlessly, is great for busy weeknights.
Why You’ll Love Today Fresh Tomato Sauce
1) Super Simple. If you can sauté vegetables in a cast iron pan and boil water, you can prepare today’s fresh tomato sauce, which cuts to the second reason you’ll love today’s recipe…
2) It’s Great for Busy Weeknights. For such a simple recipe, today’s sauce is super satisfying, and packs a lot of flavor, meaning it’s great for weeknights where you might be short on time but still want something that leaves you feeling content.
3) It Keeps Nicely, Heats up Beautifully. Today’s sauce keeps excellently for several days in the fridge, and can be heated up nicely without fear of overcooking or drying it out.
Ingredients – Notes and Tips
1) Cooking With Wine – Or How I Learned to Stop Fearing The Splash and ‘Wine’ My Sauce. Today we’re only using a quarter of cup, and this is primarily because we don’t want too much liquid in the sauce – but more on that in a moment, first a few notes on cooking with wine. First and foremost, as with all liquids, a portion of the wine will simply evaporate, or be soaked into the other ingredients. Secondly, not only will a portion of the wine evaporate, in total, but ‘all’ of its alcohol ‘will’ evaporate entirely, as alcohol has a much a lower boiling point than water. For reference, the boiling point of alcohol is 173 degrees Fahrenheit, well under than the 212 degree boiling point of water. This means that even before the sauce has reached a ‘gentle simmer,’ the alcohol will have entirely departed the sauce in the form of steam – which, by itself, will reduce the total amount of ‘wine’ you’ve added by anywhere from twelve to fifteen percent, depending on the wine you’ve used. That said, in total, about one quarter to one third of the wine you use will simply vanish as steam. Translation, feel free to increase the amount of wine in today’s recipe up to about a half a cup, depending on how much ‘acidity’ and ‘wine flavor’ you like in your sauce – it’s purely preference. However, if you add more than a half a cup, you risk making the sauce too watery.
2) Pecorino Romano vs Parmesan vs Reggiano. One of the most enduring ‘Food Myths’ is that all grating cheese is more or less ‘the same.’ To start, Parmesan is simply American produced Parmigiano Reggiano – both are produced from cow’s milk, and both are aged for two or more years, which imparts the cheeses with what many describe as a ‘sharp’ and ‘salty’ flavor. Parmigiano Reggiano ‘must’ be produced in Italy due to EU and Italian trademark laws. So, at least in this case, the two grating cheeses are ‘basically’ the same, although Reggiano is considerably pricier, and regarded to be of generally higher quality overall. Pecorino Romano, by contrast, is produced from sheep’s milk, and is only aged for less than a year, giving it a slightly less sharp and considerably less salty flavor. Despite these differences, these three cheeses are often used interchangeably, and once they’ve been melted over sauce, or baked into something like a lasagna, few if any palates would ‘really’ be able to tell the difference unless these cheeses were used in positively ‘silly’ amounts. Bonus Fact: Locatelli is ‘not’a variety of cheese, it is instead an Italian brand of Romano.
3) Pignoli Nuts – What are they? Is there a Substitute? Pinoli, Pignolias, or piñón, are simply pine nuts. They are valued for their small size, tender or even ‘buttery’ texture when cooked, and the large amount of oil that they contain – relative to their small size – which seeps out into the food they are being cooked in, thereby spreading their flavor more intensely and evenly than other nuts. As a result, a truly ‘good’ substitute is hard to find, since very few, if any, other nut carries this precise combination of desirable traits. For today’s recipe, I would likely opt for chopped almonds if you ‘must’ replace the Pignoli nuts.
Great Pairings With Today’s Recipe.
1) Breadsticks. At the risk of being old fashioned, I’m going to suggest breadsticks to pair with today’s sauce, and these are much easier to prepare than you might think. Paired with some olive oil for dipping, or even some herbed butter or black coffee, these are super versatile and keep great. As a nice bonus, they never failt to impress the guests.
2) Meatballs. Fresh tomato sauce and meatballs, need I say more? My current favorite way to prepare meatballs are with raisins and pignoli nuts, and then to pan fry them, which create a beautifully moist, subtly sweet meatball that’s simply a delight from start to finish.
If You Enjoyed Today’s Recipe…
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