Warning: I am a total and utter tomato snob.
Pale, mealy tomatoes send me away with tears in my eyes, and I just can’t see how people can bear to keep their tomatoes in the fridge. Pre-made tomato sauce in a jar scares me, and I have refused to eat things multiple times because the tomatoes in it just ruin the dish. I know – slightly pathetic, but you were warned! Ripe, juicy, and bright red are my absolute favourite, with sundried and drizzled with herbs de provence and extra virgin olive oil coming in a close second and this simple tomato sauce firmly in third.
Sadly, it’s very near impossible to find any locally-grown tomatoes in grey, drizzly, frigid Scotland in the middle of February, but luckily, there was a beautifully crimson bunch of organic tomatoes straight from Spain in my weekly organic fruit and vegetable box. Since there are very few organic farms able to provide produce year-round in Scotland, the box is more of a collection of fruit and vegetables from family-run organic farms around Europe in the winter months, and I’m very happy with that arrangement if I get ripe tomatoes out of it!
Roma tomatoes are my absolute favourite. Plump, juicy, yet still firm, they lend themselves to so many culinary creations but are still the perfect afternoon snack. Paired with a delicious combination of canned cherry tomatoes, red onion, garlic, a good olive oil, and herbs, they make a delightfully rich, versatile sauce. Plus, my Italian-ish name gives me the automatic right to eat the whole batch, right?! Not that I’ve ever done that… hey, I told you I loved tomatoes.
To get a delicious depth of flavour in 30 minutes, I add a tin of organic cherry tomatoes. The canned tomatoes add a richness and body which is otherwise unattainable within a mere half-hour, and using cherry tomatoes rather than larger ones adds a touch of delicate sweetness. It’s a conflation of tradition and practicality, essentially. The thinly sliced red onion is my grandmother’s wonderful tip, whilst copious amounts of fresh herbs add the finishing touch to an already delicious sauce. Red, chunky (no worries, you can easily blend it for a smoother texture), and so full of flavour you would think it had been simmering away for hours and hours, this simple 30-minute sauce is certainly a winner.
Slather generously on top of anything and everything. Except possibly chocolate… enjoy!
30-minute tomato sauce
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Ingredients (2 cups of sauce)
- 6 roma/plum tomatoes (these have a firm texture, which will result in a nice, thick sauce!)
- 1 tin canned cherry tomatoes
- ½ red onion, very finely sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ teaspoon fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon fresh basil
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1. Drop fresh tomatoes into a pan of boiling water and leave for about a minute, until the skins split. Lift out and peel, then roughly chop.
2. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan on a medium-low heat and add the sliced onion. Soften for about five to seven minutes, until soft. Stir in the garlic and cook for another two minutes.
3. Add the fresh tomatoes and tin of cherry tomatoes. Break up with a wooden spoon if necessary.
4. Bring to a vigorous simmer, then turn down the heat and simmer on low for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thick. Add the bay leaf, rosemary, basil, and thyme, then simmer for another 5 minutes.
5. Taste, season if necessary, then remove the herb stems and bay leaf.