When tomatoes are in season it seems a shame to do anything but keep it simple; a sprinkle of salt, a drizzle of oil, a little basil, some good cheese, a hunk of bread – perfection! But there comes a time, especially if you grow your own, when it does not seem extravagant to also turn them into sauce!
This simple recipe makes a quick and easy tomato sauce, with or without the addition of fresh herbs, which makes a great pasta sauce but is also an excellent base sauce that can be used to make a myriad of other dishes. If you are nervous of chillies just add one or two and then remove them before you process your sauce.
400-450g tomatoes (depending on size)
4-5 cloves of garlic
1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1-2 Purple Haze chillies
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 200 ºC
Wash the tomatoes and place them in an oven proof dish big enough to hold them in one layer.
Add the whole garlic cloves (skin on), sprinkle with a little salt and then drizzle with olive oil, tossing the whole tomatoes in the oil.
Place in the oven and roast them for 10 minutes. Spilt the chillies lengthwise leaving the stalks on and then pop them into the dish and stir in. Return the dish to the oven for a further 10-15 minutes, just long enough for the tomatoes to soften. The bigger the tomatoes are the longer this will take.
Remove the dish and set it aside until cool enough to handle and then remove all the stalks and skins of the tomatoes and garlic.
This is where you can tinker with the heat of the sauce. If you want just a hint of spiciness remove the chillies now and discard them. If you prefer a spicier sauce then leave one or two chillies in (removing the stalks). Blitz everything together in a liquidiser.
Taste your sauce and add more salt if necessary then swirl in some fresh olive oil.The colour of your sauce will depend on the colour of your tomatoes!
In my humble opinion I think it is only really worth making a sauce with fresh tomatoes when they are in full season in the UK. Out of season I tend to use a good tinned variety such as Cirio from Naples. You can still use this same simple roasting method to make your sauce.
Most major supermarkets now sell so-called “fresh chilli” sauces in their chillier cabinets but if you have a quick look at what they contain you will quickly realise that these are nothing like a fresh homemade sauce – frequently they have more than thirty ingredients! In fact it is precisely this sort of thing that spurred me on to make and share my own homemade sauce – which I will now be selling at the local farmers markets near Heswall. Bringing the fresh back to fresh!
I will be posting a few recipes that have been adapted to use just one 340ml tub of my sauce. If you live elsewhere in the UK and want to have a go at making the sauce you can buy the Purple Haze chillies from me at chilligourmets.uk/order or if you also fancy trying to grow the chillies yourself then you can get the seeds from seaspringseeds.co.uk.