The sauce I make is typically a sauce of minced garlic, chopped onion, and diced tomato, with some herbs thrown in for good measure. When the tomatoes are sweet, this sauce is sweet. When the tomatoes are sour, this sauce is more sour. This sauce is cooked until the tomatoes break down a little, but it's not a long cooking sauce, and it has the fresh taste of its components.
Today, I wanted to make lasagne, and I wanted a sauce that was a little more grounded, a little more well rounded, a little more ... substantial. I accomplished this by the addition of carrot to my sauce, and a rather extended low temperature cooking time. Yep, I simmered this sauce for 2 hours. The result is a reduced sauce, robust, full bodied, a little sweet from the carrots, and bold enough to hold its own, but mellow enough to soften all the edges and please all palates.
I pureed it after cooking (using an immersion blender -- such a great kitchen tool) to make a smooth sauce, which suited my purposes.
I'm of the opinion, when making sauce: go big or go home. What I mean is, you might as well make as much as your pot will hold, because it freezes beautifully in glass jars, and then you have some ready the next time you need it -- for a quickie dinner when you're pressed for time, or for whatever meal you've lovingly planned -- and it's one thing less you'll have to do then. In harvest season, I will buy as many tomatoes as I can carry, and use every pot in the house. There's no point in doing that now, because the tomatoes are neither local nor cheap (but Loblaws now carries organic romas in pound packages, which is great), but because of the long cooking time of this sauce, it's a great idea to make more than just your needs for the day.
The following recipe, after cooking for 2 hours, made 2 L (8 cups), which I sadly used all at once because I made an extra lasagne for the freezer.
1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil
1/4 cup garlic, finely minced
3 cups onion, finely chopped
2 cups carrots, finely chopped
5 lbs roma tomatoes, diced (about 10 cups)
2 tbsp sea salt
2 tbsp marjoram
1 tbsp oregano
1. saute the garlic, onion, and carrot in a covered saute pan with 1 tbsp sea salt until well sweated and translucent. Use low heat.
2. add the tomatoes, herbs, pepper, and rest of sea salt, and stir
3. cook on low heat (just enough for a low simmer) for 2 hours or so, until the sauce has achieved lift-off
4. use chunky, or puree. Use now, or freeze for later. If you freeze it, make sure you leave a little space at the top of the jar for expansion. It would be a shame to break the jars after all your hard work chopping.
This sauce really was perfect in the lasagne. I think it would be really nice with the addition -- either in the sauce or in the lasagne itself -- of a full-bodied mushroom. Alas, my spouse is not only not a mushroom lover, he is a mushroom hater. I look forward to trying this sauce again for pizza -- ooh, with thinly sliced king mushrooms -- or portobelli. Yum.