Sapta Rachel’s Best Tomato Sauce

Tomatoes, Wine and Art from Barcelona
Tomatoes, Wine and Art from Barcelona

This recipe comes from my daughter’s Israeli Italian grandmother on her birth-father’s side. Try saying that three times fast! Rachel is an amazing cook and this very simple recipe is truly hers. I learned it from my daughter who brought it home with her after spending a few weeks in Israel with her Sapta.

  1. 3–20 fresh tomatoes (any variety)
  2. 1–8 onions chopped finely (crying time)
  3. 2 cloves of garlic per large tomato (always prepare the garlic with the centers removed). You can chop it fine or press it once you’ve removed the centers.
  4. olive oil (a healthy amount, at least ¼ cup or more)
  5. salt and pepper
  6. fresh basil (chopped finely)

Cover the bottom of your saucepan with a thinnish layer of olive oil. Don’t ever be afraid to use more than a few tablespoons of olive oil! Heat the olive oil and fry the onions up until they are soft, stirring frequently, don’t burn them (at least 10 minutes). Add the garlic into the pan with the onions and cook for several more minutes. Grate the tomatoes over the pan, if you are just using a smaller amount of tomatoes.

Otherwise grate all those tomatoes in a bowl separately and then put them in with the onions. Grating the tomatoes, with a cheese grater over the pan or bowl, is the quick way to peel tomatoes, because the skin stays in your hand and the pulp goes in the pan/bowl. If you hate using a cheese grater, and some folks do, you can also steam the tomatoes, let them cool and then peel them and just chop or mush them up with your hands into the pan instead. This takes more time and more dishes, so I prefer the cheese grater method.

Add a lot of fresh ground pepper and a fair amount of salt, more than a dash (see the Let’s Talk Salt post). Cook this down on medium to high heat, then simmer, stirring frequently, until it is pulpy and thick, not watery. This can take anywhere from fifteen minutes to several hours depending on the water content, heat of your burner, and amount of tomatoes. I generally like to cook mine for a few hours, the flavors just get better. Do not cover the pan, let this aroma waft through your home and inspire and titillate all who venture into your space. Add the chopped basil at the last-minute before serving. Use this sauce over pasta, in any eggplant dish or in any other recipe that calls for tomato sauce. It will keep for a week or more in the fridge. You can freeze it or can it also. Enjoy!

© Nicole Barchilon Frank

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