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Freezer Tomato Sauce

I probably make a vat of this every few months. I freeze it in pint jars and also make ice cubes of it which I then decant into bags. I love being able to easily grab a cube or two to throw into a sauce or stew, or to defrost a jar for an easy pasta dinner or the base of a soup.

Though I have listed exact quantities, I lie. Each batch is different. Sometimes I feel like more garlic and add an entire head rather than a few cloves, sometimes I add massive quantities of basil and end up with a fragrant, green flecked sauce. Occasionally, I add chilis and make a spiced version. Consider this a base and built on it according to your taste, needs and contents of your fridge.

1 16 oz jar whole Marzano tomatoes

4 cups passata or freshly grated summer tomatoes

1 small can tomato concentrate

1/2 cup dry red wine

3 organic carrots, well washed and cut into rough quarters

1 large white or yellow onion, peeled and roughly cut into 8

5 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled

1 cup basil leaves (reserve the associated stems)

1 cup Italian parsley

4 sprigs thyme

1 bay leaf

2 sprigs oregano

2 Tbsps olive oil

Salt to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat, along with the tomato concentrate. Stir constantly until a paste is formed and the olive oil incorporated into the concentrate.

As soon as the olive oil mixture is shimmering, add the carrots along with the garlic, onion, bay leaf, thyme, oregano and basil stems. Stir so that each element has a faint oily tomato sheen.

Pour in the red wine and stir to incorporate. Cook for a couple of minutes to burn off some of the alcohol.

Add the whole tomatoes from the can, juice and all, the passata and one cup of water. Salt well.

Lower the heat and cover the pan. Allow to cook for 30 minutes uninterrupted.

Remove the cover, stir well and add the Italian parsley and basil leaves. Cover again and cook for an additional 10 minutes.

Remove from the heat. Fish out the bay leaf and the sprigs of oregano and thyme.

Using an immersion blender, blitz until the sauce is of the smoothness that you desire. I sometimes like chunky, sometimes -- as illustrated above -- very smooth.

Taste. Add more salt if needed and, if the sweetness of the carrots isn't enough to balance the flavors, a pinch or two of sugar. Stir to combine.

Pour into your containers and let cool before freezing. Reserve one cup for your dinner and make penne with tomato sauce, some additional basil and lots of Parmesan as I did here.


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