Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tomato Sauce – Your Wish is Eventually My Command

One of the most common "food wishes" I get is for tomato sauce. Even though I've received hundreds of requests for my tomato sauce recipe, I've resisted filming it for a few reasons.

Firs
t, I always thought I would eventually put all my most requested, unpublished recipes on a DVD, and totally get rich. That scheme has been thwarted since, over the course of the last couple years, I filmed and posted just about every recipe that fits that description.

Second, tomato sauce recipes are so personal that what I may think is a perfect all-purpose sauce, you may taste and think is the worse one you ever had. I remember going out to eat as a kid and listening to my mom and aunts talk about how the sauce we were eating was an abomination compared to "our" sauce.

Anyway, those issues aside, this is my basic, all-purpose tomato sauce. I trust you'
ll taste and adjust the seasoning as you see fit, and be relatively gentle when comparing it to your grandmother's clearly superior version.

One thing I hope you do not change is the tomato. There is little debate among tomato sauce aficionados regarding the advantages using the magnificent San Marzano tomato. This long, intensely red, plum tomato variety imported from Italy can be found in any good Italian market, and most of the larger high-end grocery chains.

Any sauce recipe is only as good as the tomatoes, and unless you're going to use a basket of sugar-sweet, vine-ripened tomatoes in the middle of summer, these are your best option. I hope you find some and give this sauce recipe a try.

The other ingredient that may give you pause is the hint of anchovy paste. Use it. No one will taste it, and while I can't prove any of this, it really does "something." Enjoy!




Ingredients:
2 cans (28-oz) whole peeled San Marzano plum tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 rib celery, fine dice
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
water as needed

82 comments:

Anonymous said...

YES!!!!!!
FINALLY

Anonymous said...

what the hell? no basil? other than that... great sauce! do you store it in the fridge until you need it as ingredient or are you always making fresh sauces?

Chef John said...

usually make it when i need it, but you can keep in the fridge for a week or so.

Anonymous said...

I wholeheartedly agree with the inclusion of anchovy (though I prefer whole to paste). Anchovy has been called "Italian MSG" for good reason. One question: is there a reason that you do not put (red)wine in your sauce?

verosgalematverden said...

Isn't anchovy a natural source of glutamate (I assume you either know what that is or you're smart enough to find out what it is :P).

So then it will do "something" to the taste. The same as adding mushrooms or soy sauce, which are natural sources as well. Maybe that's what my sauces need... some soy sauce ... hmm

Norellys said...

It`s a wonderful recipe.
Thanks Chef John.

Norellys

Joe LaGreca said...

I thought you weren't supposed to add your spices (basil, mint, etc) until the last 30 minutes, so you don't loose their flavor.

Looked good though! Thanks.

Chef John said...

Many people think that, which is completely wrong. There is no one perfect time to add fresh herbs. It all depends on what flavor you want. basil cooked for hours in a tomato sauce recipe tastes completely different than basil added at the last second to a Thai curry. If you watch my videos you'll see me add at the beginning and end (and sometimes both) depending. Generally fresh sweet herbs like basil, tarragon, etc. are most commonly added at the end, but it depends. the parsley here is more mellow if cooked in.

aarondelatorre said...

You were just using a metal ladle...

Thanks heaps for this recipe. I went looking on your site for a tomato sauce recipe a few weeks back, hoping to find something to use with the sauce tomatoes we bought.

Do you think this could be put in jars like a pasata?

S2ey said...

Chef John my man...this is awesome!!!! I feel like I know you, I have been tuning into to ur blog for at least 3 years. I always yell friends and family about your videos, but could never post comments cause my old computer sucked (haha...could hardly load half ur video categories. but I must say I have always wanted this recipe, so pumped for the weekend so I can try this.. just wanna say thank you for staying so committed with this, You"ve really sparked a excitement for cooking and food without the stress or confusion....Good job.

Travis said...

Would you recommend making a big batch of this and freezing it in individual serving sizes so you can always have tasty homemade tomato sauce on the ready?

Or is freezing it a bad idea?

Connie T. said...

I will have to look for those tomatoes.

Chef John said...

you can jar this sauce or freeze it no problem. btw, was kidding, non-reactive metal is fine! but wooden spoon best!

Jack Parker said...

It's almost 4am and I just finished making your tomato sauce. Why? Because I woke up at 3am and couldn't sleep. I cook when I can't sleep. Doesn't everyone?

In deference to chefs kind enough to share their personal recipes, I always make them exactly as given before tweaking them to my own tastes. Chef John, I won't be tweaking this one at all. Ever. Not even the anchovy paste (which, along with okra, I still believe God created as a joke to see if people would really eat it).

My grandmother couldn't make this sauce on her best day. Then again, the women in my family can't cook. Did you know I was 18 years old before I realized hamburger wasn't supposed to be crunchy? As for me, if I have tomatoes, lemon and garlic, I have groceries.

Thank you whole-heartedly for a tomato sauce recipe that doesn't taste generic, sets itself apart and is sure to win friends and influence politicians and bosses.

FYI, the fussy 'blueberry muffins or die' crowd at work requested your lemon poppyseed muffins again. It's 4am so, naturally, I'm going to make them. (Another of your recipes I don't tweak, by the way.)

Anonymous said...

Jack, that was a super nice post! Chef John ROCKS, and I just knew someday he'd share his recipe for tomato sauce. It was worth waiting for!

Robert Lewis said...

Chef John is the fo-teezy ya know? Elevata material gotta see me.

Mike said...

@ Robert Lewis

What?

Anonymous said...

@ Robert Lewis

I double that "what?"

Fafnr said...

Could you elaborate on the "italian herbs"?
I don't have any italian blend available where I live, so any details on these would be appreciated!

Chef John said...

It's usually equal parts dried oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme, sage

john said...

Chef John, What do you pay for the ItalBrand San Marzano tomatoes? Of course, I can't find any of them where I live (San Diego), and checking online, a case runs about $60, plus shipping. Just trying to figure out what I should be willing to pay for these...

Chef John said...

not sure maybe 4 bucks a can? Trust me, there are San Marzano tomatoes in SD somewhere. Don't you have Whole Foods? Or any Italian stores? I know some chefs must be using theme, call a restaurant supply store.

john said...

Thanks. We do have a Whole Foods. I'm sure there is an Italian store somewhere, although my Google Mapping and searching only reveals deli's, with limited store items (I called). Hopefully the Whole Foods has them.

Middlebury Stay Informed said...

Hey Chef John.

Can you tell me how long the anchovy paste will last in the frig after it has been opened? Also, since I am at it, can you tell me how long the tomato paste in the tube will last once it is opened as well?

Jim

Middlebury Stay Informed said...

Hey Chef John,

Can you tell me how long the anchovy paste in the tube will last, once it is opened? Also can you also tell me how long tomato paste in the tube will also last, once it is opened.

Thank you. :-)

Jim

Chef John said...

both last months

dave said...

argh, Whole Foods does not have these tomatoes. I can't find them anywhere in San Diego County.

Chef John said...

road trip!

satchmo said...

Well, apart from destroying this recipe by using normal tomatoes, I'm curious if by halfing the ingredients called for I could more or less get similar results with a smaller batch. thoughts? Please be gentle!

zack

Chef John said...

half works!!

Ramona W. said...

I made this sauce last night, 4/26, and it was bueno! I made it for the Ricotta meatballs and Homemade tortellini which were deliciuos. I couldn't believe how easy making sauce is... I have to say no more Ragu* for me :) I love to cook, but I do have a fear as well, and homemade tomato sauce is up there. We will know how coregeous I am when I decide to make your blueberry muffins :)

phillytenor said...

chef, i had my doubts about this. carrots in tomato sauce, i dared not tell my grandmom. but, i tried it and it knocked my socks off. i've been singing your praises and even got my 83 year old grandmother to try a new sauce recipe. and she loves it. thanks a million!

Julie in Virginia said...

All I can say is yum! yum! yum! I have a zillion tomato sauce recipes... and this one is tops. I didn't have the anchovy paste, but made it anyway. I have a lot of fresh herbs in the garden right now so I used fresh instead of the "italian herbs". I also have a boatload of Marzano tomatoes canned from last season that need to be used before this years crop ripens. I do love that tomato!

This is a GREAT sauce :) Thank you... I love your blog. Makes me inspired to cook at the end of the day - even when I am tired.

Your generosity in sharing this special recipe is appreciated.

Did I mention - YUM?

Chef John said...

Thanks!! My pleasure!

Anonymous said...

Very Vegetarian for, thanks so much. Again I would like to ask more Vegetarian and Vegan recipes, we have to eat too :D

What a delicious way to make sauce, I was the one in the group of 30 or 50 minutes boiling a sauce, now I know better.

You are great. Blessings!

Anonymous said...

I'll be making this sauce any day now, but there is a question that's on my mind for some time now. Isn't tomato paste just just concentrated tomatoes? Instead of adding it, can;t i just use a bit more tomatoes? Or does the paste add some distinct flavouring?
BTW I'm a great fan of your blog. Your recipes have saved my ass like a dozen of times already.

Zahra K. said...

"Be careful not to splash your camera." Hahahahahhaha!!!!@!#@$

Lovvveee the look of this, like almost everything else on the website!

John Schmelig said...

Turned out to be the best sauce I've ever made! I've never even purchased anchovy paste before, but anticipate using it in lots of recipes. I had the sauce simmering for well over an hour and was basking in the aroma of my little Italian kitchen. The best!

Anna said...

Ok, as much as I'd love to have these San Marzano tomatoes, it's just not possible for me.

I know you love your San Marzano's but I thought fresh was better than canned?

*If I used fresh Roma tomatoes would that be a good substitute for your Marzano's? Although, sometimes I can't even find Roma's so I usually end up using regular slicing (salad?) tomatoes which doesn't make as good of a sauce as yours I'm sure! :)

Anna said...

Also, I forgot...celery and sugar in tomato sauce? I've not heard of this before. Is there a reason or is this just your preference? Thanks for your videos, I'm learning a lot! :)

Chef John said...

celery and sugar are classic ingredients as far as I know. Also, if you can find real, sweet vine-riped tomatoes, of course they work great, BUT I've NEVER seen a ripe tomato in a supermarket (red doesn't mean ripe, they are reddened with a gas). So, high quality canned are always better tasting to me than fresh tasteless ones.

Alexander said...

This tastes absolutely great, but I don't understand the effect of the vinegar when it is just meant to evaporate anyway? I have asked several chefs, but nobody has heard of this method. Could you please explain? Thanks, greetings from Norway, Scandinavia!

Chef John said...

The water in the vinegar evaporates, NOT the acid and the flavor of the vinegar.

kimyen said...

could i use red wine vinegar for this recipe?
is there a major difference

kimyen said...

hi
great recipe as always
could i use red wine vinegar instead?
is there like a maajor difference

Chef John said...

Yes u can.

Diamond said...

I was wondering if it's ok to use white or red wine instead of the vinegar - that's all I have at home, not kidding :-)

Thanks!

Chef John said...

Sure, or leave it out!

Jonathan said...

Great recipe indeed! However, may I ask: Why is the vinegar added at all - why add acid (vinegar) to acid (tomatoes)...? And then you compensate with sugar because of all the acid...? Thank you very much Chef John.

Foodie said...

Greetings! I just happened to come across your recipes on Youtube, and I am already a fan. Thank you for the quick and easy videos to follow. I have a question about the tomato sauce. From the comments above, anchovy paste can be omitted. Can the celery be omitted? I dont get it where I live and how much carrot to use if that is available?

Chef John said...

Anything can be omitted, it will just taste different. Im not a fan of carrot, but you could add a 1/2 cup I guess. Relax, it's just sauce :-)

Matt D said...

Chef John,

Best cooking site ever! Question tho. Thats a 7.5 quart Dutch oven you use isn't it. I just got one, an early xmas gift so can't complain but its the 6 qt and i was happy until I ran across your Braised Short Rib recipe and u revealed what size that dutch oven was lol.

Keep doing what your doing, this site beats out....wont say what the "network" name is but this site totally kicks its butt. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I was told to never cook anything with vinegar in aluminium pots/pans nor use aluminium utensils as it the vinegar & aluminium unites to set off a chemical reaction which is poisonous when ingested. Don't know how true this is but I never want to find out therefore I always use wooden spoons to cook.

Razors Edge said...

If I added some dried italian herbs.. how much should I add?

Chef John said...

can't give amounts for this stuff, just add to your taste!

Anonymous said...

I make my sauce about the same, I have to try celery and anchovy and those tomatoes.

Does simmering that long make that much of a difference in taste?
Because I'm pretty happy with my "30-Minute-Sauce" and as a student I most likely don't have that much time ;)
I'm guessing that it would bring out the flavours because the water evaporates, but wouldn't adding water destroy the effect?

Anonymous said...

Hi chef, really love this site. I've tried some of your recipe and they are great! However, just intended to make this one for i just found the tomatoes.

Question: what is the name of the pot you are using? I guess we cant't use metal one?

Thanks!

cookinmom said...

I know you hate these questions but...can you use anchovies instead of the paste and if so how many???

Chef John said...

of course!! depends how big they are, but don't worry about amounts! just add to taste

Anna said...

Chef John how many days can we maintain this sause? Does it have to be in the fridge or could we also put this in mayonaise jars and keep it in a dry place?

Chef John said...

you should refrigerate. it will start to ferment. Not sure of max shelf life, but at least a week

Lacey92122 said...

I will never make my sauce with anything but the San Marzano tomatoes again. Made this yesterday, almost exactly as written,which is rare for me, I almost always tinker with a recipe right off the bat, but I've learned to trust Chef John. The only thing I did differently was to use a little more garlic, cuz I know my hubby and I like more garlic in just about everything. I simmered for the hour and a half then refrigerated for about 6 hours and then heated it up and put some of your fabulous Italian Meatballs in. Hubby says it was better than our favorite Italian restaurant. I can't wait to have it again tonight. Someone said they couldn't find the tomatoes in San Diego, but I went to Filippi's Restaurant in Little Italy, they have a store there.

gateman said...

Dear Chef John

Regarding your Basic tomato sauce, I prepared it with San Marzano tomatoes and it is the BEST I ever made after 40 years of cooking and searching for a decent marinara sauce. It is obvious the town or city of San Marzano pays you big bucks to "spread the word". I do not feel betrayed, just disappointed that it took me so long to discover how good they can be. I then used your recipe again, but with Tuttorosa tomatoes, and to tell the truth they were about 8.5 while San Marzanos were 10. What it all comes down to is this: you are a genius for creating the recipe and for sharing it with us. So I'm offering you my hand in marriage, never mind I'm a man with 5 grandchildren and straight, so far. Our love will find a way. I discovered your website about 2 months ago and I've gained about 5 lbs. since then. Please stop me before I cook again!

Chef John said...

Ha! Thanks!!

gateman said...

I cooked again, but this time I made it in a pressure cooker with identical ingredients with very good results. My grandson is home on Spring break and I didn't have time to cook it the long way. Thanks Chef John.

Michele Green said...

Just found the San Marzano tomatoes at Walmart of all places, only $3.48 a can. Even got the anchovy paste there.
I can't wait to make your sauce this weekend, it looks delicious!

Labute Rabe said...

I don't think San Marzanos are a must. I got mine at Whole Foods for 5 bucks a can and it was more juice than tomato. I tasted some with my finger and still don't see what the big deal is. I've made this recipe with Whole Foods Italian Roma tomatoes (3 bucks a can) and it tastes the same. Food for thought for those on a budget.

If you're making John's Italian meatballs to go along with this sauce, cut that recipe in half and you'll have the right amount.

Pat said...

Hi Chef John!

Great recipe and "merci beaucoup!" from Montréal! I was wondering if it is at the very end that you might add meat to this sauce. Would it be safe to add uncooked sausage meat (removed from the casing) to the sauce once it has been brought up to a simmer? I think the meat would probably cook in an hour or so, would it not? If not, do you have any other suggestions? Thanks in advance!

Chef John said...

Yes you can cook meat in the sauce. Sausage would be great.

CaptChris said...

The last comment by Pat answered my first question. I want to add fresh mushrooms, at what point should I do that...I was thinking an hour into the simmering? Thank you!

CaptChris said...

Also...I must have not used enough onion and celery, or too much oil and I have this "oily surface" can I do anything about that? This is a new hobby for me as a bachelor and I love your website and have made so many of your dishes and love it! Thank you for bringing out my inner "chef" it really is a fun and creative process!

Chef John said...

I'd saute mushrooms at beginning to get meatier flavor. You can always skim off oil!

CaptChris said...

Wow...Chef John I didn't expect such a quick answer, thank you! It's on the stove now so I guess I'll saute and add now, better late than never I hope. You are welcome anytime to the wild jungle of Costa Rica's Osa Peninsula! I have a beautiful air conditioned beachfront bungalow at my hotel and a kitchen waiting for celebrity a Chef...Pura Vida!

Chef John said...

Thanks!

Valerie said...

Because my San Marzano tomato plants are loaded this year, I was wondering:
1) can I use fresh tomatoes for this sauce? if so, how many lbs = one can?

2) I would like to make a large batch of this sauce to can many pints for winter. How many times could I multiply recipe and keep integrity?

Thanks SO much for your sharing!

Chef John said...

There's 28 oz in each can, so there's your weight. Divide by 16 for pounds of course. You can make as large a batch as you want! Enjoy!

Louis C. said...

Love your videos and recipes. You should create a donation tab to paypal.

MelonMochi said...

He doesn't have a donation tab but you can buy his Kindle ebook of recipes on Amazon.com to support him. That's what I did! :D

Chef John said...

Thanks, but to be clear, I don't get any money from the ebooks. Those are done by Allrecipes. :)

Barb Shaw said...

Chef John: You are my food God! and families! I make your roasted tomato sauce and one day my 22 yr old son said "Mom, you should patent this sauce, it's so perfect!" I told that I thought Chef John wouldn't like that very much! LOL
My question about your tomato sauce recipe: Can this be made and then frozen?
Thanks
Barb

Chef John said...

Yes, you can freeze! Thanks!

Mohammadali Mohammadi said...

Hi Chef John.Is there any substitute for ItalBrand San Marzano tomatoes?Because in my region you cant find such a thing!Or atleast give me the recipe of it and I will somehow manage it.