Thursday, January 3, 2013

Herbed Tomato Sauce for Pasta Pizza or Cooking, Slow Cooker Recipe

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You can not get far in Italian Cooking without a good basic Tomato Sauce or Red Gravy or in Italian... "Salsa di Pomodoro alle erbe"...

I'll never forget the first time this Midwestern farm country boy first heard tomato sauce called a gravy.  My good friend Mario Russomano (I think he was Italian... Just kidding, North Jersey Italian through and through) was commenting on a restaurant pasta sauce and comparing it to his mothers' gravy.  Having grown up with jars of Ragu, I was astounded that anyone would bother with making their own from scratch.

Well, welcome to astounding...

This is an all purpose sauce.  I use this for pasta, pizza, for braising and even to poach eggs.  It is very easy to make and also MUCH cheaper than buying overly processed jarred store bought sauce.  It is also my go-to winter sauce.  Let's face it, there is nothing like fresh sauce made from fresh heirloom tomatoes picked right off the vine.  But you can only make that 3 or 4 months during the year.  Other than those months, you need to either use bland tasteless tomatoes or canned.

Use canned.

They are packaged at their peak of freshness and packed in their own juices.  Not as good as fresh locally produced, but better than the hothouse or imported weeks old tomatoes in the produce section.  This is one of those rare occasions when canned is better.

I also make my sauce in a crock pot, slow cooker.  Why not, stable temperatures that are set for the low simmer that is needed for the natural sugars in the fruit make a slow cooker the best place to cook a gravy.  I also cook mine for at least 8 hours (on low) with the lid on.  This keeps the moisture inside without evaporation.  I cook uncovered for about 1 hour only for the sauce to thicken at that point.
But I am ahead of myself... 

Here's what I did... 

Herbed Tomato Sauce 
"Salsa di Pomodoro alle erbe"
for Pasta Pizza or Cooking,
Slow Cooker, Crock Pot Recipe

  • 3 TBS Olive Oil
  • 1 Large Onion, Chopped
  • 1 Medium Bell Pepper, Core and seeds removed, Chopped
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, Peeled and minced
  • 1 LARGE (28 Oz) Can Crushed Tomatoes in their juices
  • 2 Small (6 OZ) Cans Tomato Paste
  • 1/2 Cup Wine
  • 2 TBS Chopped fresh Oregano
  • 2 TBS Chopped fresh basil
  • 2 TBS Chopped fresh Rosemary
  • 3 TBS Chopped fresh Thyme
  • 1 Large Pinch Salt
  • Several turns of a Pepper Grinder to taste
  • 2 TBS Balsomic Vinegar
Cooking Directions
  1. Break out a 6 Quart Slow Cooker, set on Low
  2. But first, in a large Saute pan or skillet, heat the Olive Oil over medium heat.
  3. When hot and just starting to smoke, add Onions and peppers and saute for about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onions begin to turn translucent.
  4. After 5 minutes, add the garlic and continue to cook for ONLY 1 minute more to release the garlic oils.
  5. Transfer the vegetables into the slow cooker. Add the canned tomatoes and paste
  6. Stir in the wine and stir to mix everything.
  7. Add the spices, stir one more time, close the lid and leave the cooker closed for 8 hours.
  8. After 8 hours, open the lid and use a hand blender to puree the sauce. If you do not have a hand blender you can puree in batches in a blender or food processor.
  9. Now, add the final ingredient some sweet Balsamic Vinegar, mix well
  10. Taste the sauce and add more salt or pepper if needed.  Be careful to not over salt as this sauce will may be used to season already salted food.  Better too little than too much.
  11. Return to the slow cooker, set it on high and check every fifteen minutes for the degree of thickness you want the sauce.
  12. Serve over pasta, as a pizza sauce, or cooking sauce. Store fresh in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or freeze immediately in plastic freezer bags, 2 cups worth is ideal.
  13. ENJOY!

Nice and thick and rich!!!

I make this often, never being without a jar in my fridge for a quickie pasta meal or pizza.  It really takes very little hands on work and the rewards are Worth the world!  So many uses.


So,  I am pleased to list this as one of my Growing list of  "52 Authentic Italian Recipes"!!!

Well over 52 recipes actually as I just can't stop. The world's most popular cuisine, authentic, natural, organic, Farm to Table... the Italians started, perfected or embraced it before it became a fad. This page is a guide to Italian Cooking... For the home cook!  So, Cin Cin (toast) and Buon Appetito (Enjoy your Meal) to you all and let's Cook authentic Italian!


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  1. That pizza looks super duper delicious!

  2. I suppose this would freeze well in vac bags too. I'll have to give this a shot when my current stock runs out.

    Yep, winter tomatoes suck!