Back to basics V: sugo di pomodoro (tomato sauce) with fresh tomatoes
The above recipe includes using leftover tomato sauce so I thought I'd share my method for making tomato sauce with fresh, seasonal tomatoes. We've currently got a glut of cuori di bue (ox hearts) growing in the garden of #akitcheninthemonferrato. As you can imagine, I've been making a lot of sauces and other tomato-based preparations lately.
Cut some ripe tomatoes into quarters and place in a a heavy-bottomed saucepan with some coarse sea salt. Cover and cook on low heat until their skins have loosened and their juices exude. Turn off heat and remove tomatoes from the saucepan. Pass tomatoes through food mill until obtaining a puree and set aside.
Now, if you prefer the sweeter notes of an onion, mince a small one. If you prefer the pungency of garlic, mince a clove instead. If you like garlic but don't like its flavour to be too pronounced, keep it whole (but peeled!). However, you may want to remove the green germ or sprout growing inside of it too, especially if it's 'old' garlic (See this lovely post by Sarah of Italy Food Project about this subject). Contrary to popular opinion, Italians actually have ambivalent feelings about garlic and are always looking for ways to tame its punchy odour and offset its side effects (See this post too about bagna cauda and the lengths the Piedmontese go to to keep this pesky allium in its place with their region's defining dish).
Anyway, enough about garlic! Heat enough extra virgin olive oil to coat the bottom of a heavy-bottomed non-stick saucepan. If using onion, reduce the heat and leave it simmer gently until it turns a translucent shade, renders and releases its fragrance (about 7 to 10 minutes). Same thing applies for the garlic (i.e. don't let it brown!). With the garlic though you just need to wait for the oil to smell of ummm... well.... garlic and that should take about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from saucepan.
Add the pureed tomato to the garlic-infused oil and leave to simmer uncovered on low to medium heat until thick and saucy. Add some boiling water to loosen the sauce slightly while the puree reduces. Taste for salt and season accordingly. You may want to add some freshly ground pepper, chilli or torn basil leaves too.