Freshly Picked Tomato Sauce

Despite the fact that our Seattle summer has been less than stellar – I have been fortunate to have a bounty of tomatoes. And not just the green ones like I had last summer. This year they turned every shade of brilliant orange and deep red and vivid yellow. The colors reminded me of a beautiful fall afternoon.

There are hundreds of tomato recipes out there. But I wanted to honor these little beauties. I didn’t want to mask their sweet flavor with heavy spices or any kind of accompaniment. So a simple tomato sauce was in order. I originally called this a “marinara” but learned that a traditional marinara sauce incorporates Italian spices. So this is simply “sauce.”

Having never prepared this – I immediately contacted my culinarily gifted friend Colleen. She seems to know how to cook just about everything. She advised me to forgo using a ton of garlic – which was definitely counterintuitive to me. I am a garlic fiend. And she also recommended adding a bit of butter to finish the sauce. Again – not something I would have considered. But as it turns out – both suggestions were genius. I resisted adding a lot of garlic so the sweetness of the tomatoes really shone through. And the butter at the end added the perfect touch – balancing the acidity of the tomatoes and giving the sauce a sumptuous, velvety texture.

I tossed this gorgeous sauce with a lovely pasta and topped it with fresh basil and shaved Parmesan Reggiano. It tasted like summer in a bowl.

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Freshly Picked Tomato Sauce

Yield: ~ 4 cups


  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 cups chopped, fresh tomatoes
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon butter


Heat oil in large sauté pan over medium heat. Add onions and peeled, WHOLE cloves of garlic. Turn heat down to low and sauté until onions start to disintegrate – about 15 minutes. Remove garlic cloves.

Add tomatoes and salt (about 1-2 teaspoons) and continue to sauté over low heat for about 1 hour – stirring frequently.

Allow sauce to cool for about 10 minutes then process using a hand mill. If you don’t have one of these – try straining through a sieve. You’re trying to remove any skins from the tomatoes. This is especially important if you’re using cherry tomatoes as you’ll have more skins – which can be bitter and a bit tough. If you don’t strain or mill the sauce – consider adding a touch of sugar of balsamic vinegar to off-set the bitterness of the skins.

Put sauce back over medium heat and add the butter. While not mandatory, the butter will add some body to the sauce – making it velvety and evening out the acidity of the tomatoes.

Serve immediately. Or can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days. But … eat it immediately if at all possible!

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