Pomarola estiva- summer tomato sauce

Finally, together with sun and heat, we get good ripe tomatoes! The next couple of months will be the perfect (and only) time for this simple tomato sauce recipe or pomarola. In cooler months you can substitute fresh tomatoes with canned pomodori pelati: just make sure there is nothing more than peeled tomatoes and perhaps a little salt in the can! There are infinite variations on tomato sauces, depending on the tomato variety (more than 320 used in Italy), regional influence and grandmother’s personal touches. As a general rule of thumb, the use of onion, carrot and celery soffritto in oil is more common in winter months when the sauce it’s made from pelati or passata: with a dense consistency and strong flavour, it can be used either as a pasta condiment or as a base for more elaborate dishes like stews. In the summer, my family uses the tomatoes from the garden: so fragrant and flavourful they don’t need much help to give a mouthwatering result. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is added at the end, a crudo- needless to say, since no spices or other flavour-adjusting “tricks” are used, the better the olive oil, the better the results!

You can adjust quantities keeping the ingredients’ proportions depending on how much sauce you’d like to prepare.

1 kg of ripe tomatoes (the elongated San Marzano variety is the best but you can use any ripe tomatoes you can find) 1 medium/large white onion (or better if you can find them, 2 fresh Tropea onions)
salt and cayenne pepper to taste extra virgin olive oil fresh basil

. chop onions and tomatoes in big chunks and place them in a large pot with one tbs of olive oil

. bring to boil, cover partially and let it cook for 30-40 min at medium heat. Don’t cover the pan completely: a good pomarola is made by evaporation

. adjust salt and hot pepper half way through

. add basil leaves- break them in little pieces by hand- and let it cool 5 minutes. Put the sauce through a food mill to separate the tomatoes’ skins- for best results use a manual food mill with the largest hole bottom (bottoms are interchangeable and come in different sizes)

. if the sauce is too liquid- that depends on the tomato variety used- you can boil it again, pot uncovered, until preferred consistency is obtained

. most important step: add olive oil a crudo (uncooked) and be generous with it!

This sauce can be refrigerated for 4 days or can be frozen: in the latter case pour the sauce in little glass jars while still hot, living some room on top. Close the jar, turn it upside down until it cools completely and then place it in the freezer; it will be good up to two months.

Buona pomarola!