March 12, 2014

Fresh Tomato & Basil Sauce

What is your favorite go-to recipe when you' re in a time pinch?!

My go-to recipe is "Pasta", without a doubt. There are days when I am in a hurry to rush things done and then, there are days when I want to relax and unwind after a long exhausting day or days when I simply don't feel like cooking anything elaborate. During such times & more, pasta is my only consort. I love pasta for it is very versatile and has never failed to satisfy me or my family's taste buds (inspite of our non-Italian origin)!

I have tried different kinds of pasta, cooked on stove-top, baked in oven, tried with different kinds of sauces, various combinations of pesto et al. Yet, we want more & more of pasta and never seem to get bored!! My daughter is a big-time fan of pasta. Whether it's over-cooked, under-cooked, less salt, more heat - she doesn't care, never says "no" to pasta. VJ loves cooking and pasta is becoming his special area of interest & expertise (yes, these days he whips up delicious pasta in no-time). He loves to experiment, mix & match all kinds of nuts and herbs. But, our all-time family favorite is almond & mint pesto pasta!

Last week, I was at safeway and ripe tomatoes & fresh basil were calling out to me. The first thing that came to my mind is to make some fresh tomato & basil sauce at home for pasta. So, that's how I am here with yet another recipe that I am more than happy to share!


The first striking thing about this recipe is its aroma from fresh basil. It is so good that it can transport you to Italy (or) some authentic Italian restaurant, absolutely at no cost!!! Make sure that you add basil leaves towards the end of the recipe and let it simmer with the sauce for about 5-8 mins. The next best thing about this recipe is of-course the sweetness from ripe tomatoes perfectly balanced by chilli powder. The rule of thumb to make any good tomato sauce is to have good, plump, ripe & tasty tomatoes!

This sauce is very versatile, for you can use this sauce to make pasta (or) spread it on pizza base (or) use it as a dip/salsa for chips!! With this sauce, you can put-up a perfectly, fresh and healthy meal in a snap minus the sweat & spending (on commercial jars)!

Basic Info
Complexity - Simple
Prep time - 20 mins
Cook time - 30-40 mins
Serves - about 2.5 cups of sauce

1 fresh/dried Bay leaf

1 medium Onion, finely chopped
3-4 cloves of Garlic, minced
2 lbs of ripe & meaty Tomatoes (I used about 10-12 medium, ripe roma tomatoes)

1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt, adjust to taste

2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped fresh basil (loosely packed)

Bring a large pot of water to rolling boil. Mark an "X" at the bottom of tomatoes with a knife and carefully drop them into the boiling water. After 2-3 mins, remove tomatoes from the boiling water and dunk them into a vessel containing ice-cold water. When the tomatoes are cold and easier to handle, peel the skin (skin should slip right-off by itself), de-seed and chop them into smaller chunks.

In a medium sauce pan, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil. When hot, add bay leaf and saute until fragrant. Add onion and minced garlic and saute until translucent. Let it continue to cook until onions are slightly browned, about 8 mins.

Add chopped tomatoes, red chilli powder, sugar, salt, paprika and let it cook on medium flame until the raw smell of chilli powder is gone and the sauce reduces to thicker consistency, about 25-30 mins. Remember, sauce will get more thicker as it cools.

Taste and adjust salt, add chopped basil and let it simmer for 5 more minutes and remove from heat.

Use this tasty, home-made tomato & fresh basil sauce in your pasta/pizza and enjoy!!

- For a smoother consistency, pulse sauce in a blender until creamy & chunk-free.
- Incase you are looking for more pasta/pesto recipes.
     - Carrot & Peas pasta
     - Almond-Mint Pesto Pasta
     - Roasted Red Bell-pepper Pesto
     - Basil Pesto Pasta
     - Alfredo Sauce
     - Vegetable Lasagna
     - Avocado Pasta
Sending this off to Made with Love Mondays!