This is an essential recipe to have. Tomato sauce can be used in an infinity of dishes from pasta sauces (on its own or with other ingredients, like cream), meatballs, pizza, roasted or braised meats, stews and even fish dishes. This one is really easy and can be frozen. That means that you can make a batch and divide into individual portions for freezing and use as you need it.
The fresher the ingredients the better and if you can use fresh tomatoes, then you raise the bar for this sauce. I haven’t done that here because I find it very difficult to find properly ripe tomatoes in England. At least ripe like I know them – dark red, sweet and already on the way to mushy. You get these easily in southern European countries like Portugal, Spain or Italy but I have never seen them here.
I am very lucky that I have proper dried oregano that I stock up every year when I go to the Algarve. My Mum buys it in bunches from the fruit market ladies who dry them in their gardens under the hot Algarve summer sun.
I usually get a huge bunch and when I get to England I scrape the leaves into an airtight container. It lasts for months and it keeps its wonderful fragrance throughout. Don’t worry if you can’t get sun-dried oregano, you can use the shop-bought spice jar.
The most important thing with this sauce is to let it simmer for a long time so the flavours develop well. If you think it is thickening too much before the cooking time is up, don’t be tempted to stop it early. Just add a little water and keep going. In the end you are left with a rich, slightly sweet deeply flavoured and coloured thick sauce. Tried and tested many times!
You can either leave the sauce lumpy just as it is when you finish cooking or liquidise it for a smooth texture if the dish you want to incorporate it in requires a smooth sauce.
I used about a third of this batch to make bagel pizzas for 4 people (recipe here!). The sauce really made a difference!