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Burst Cherry Tomato Sauce: The Little Black Dress of the Kitchen

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Thanks to some generous friends, our own little veggie garden, and a ‘special’ at the green grocer, I ended up with a glut of tomatoes.

Mainly cherry tomatoes.

I googled a couple of recipes but none had really grabbed me. I have a lovely and super talented chef friend (Angela) who I call often with annoying foody questions. I phoned her, asked her for a couple of ideas and I very nearly made a Gazpacho on her recommendation. But the weather turned wild and woolly, and for me Gazpacho is strictly a heatwave meal. So that idea was put aside for a later date.

At my favourite local coffee shop I got chatting to the chef about the overload of cherry tomatoes. By the end of the conversation I was convinced to make a sauce, and had very kindly been lent a mouli.

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As the header suggests, I believe a good tomato sauce recipe is like the little black dress of the kitchen.

It can be dressed up, or left to shine in it’s own right.

It is as basic a recipe as you could possibly get, but there is somehow something so delightful in it’s simplicity. It reminds me a great deal of my Nonna’s peasant style cookery – the woman is living proof that you do not need to follow complicated recipes to eat quality food.

There are a myriad of ways you can use this sauce, below is a list of inspiration, if you need any.

* add a few handfuls of basil and you have a delicious sauce for pasta or gnocchi.
* add some caramelised onions, a pinch of allspice and some cooked green beans, and serve atop a simple rice pilaf.
* use as a pizza base, top with some roast pumpkin, zucchini and buffalo mozzarella.
* make a soup by adding some chopped roasted red peppers, basil, stock and some cooked quinoa.
* make a simple shakshuka, (as I did this evening for my dinner) by adding cumin seeds to a few spoonfuls of sauce in a pan, and cracking in an egg or two.
* add a few pinches of paprika, a tray of roast potatoes and some freshly chopped parsley, and you have yourself some amazing patatas bravas.

The tomato flavour intensifies greatly by the process of roasting them. Each particular variety of tomato has it’s own characteristic so make sure that you taste the sauce once it has been passed throughout the mouli. You may need to add more salt, a little sweetness if the tomatoes are a tad tart, or even a splash of balsamic vinegar. You can also dial it down by adding a splash of water on reheating, then letting it reduce down a little.

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Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce

– 1.5 kg cherry tomatoes left whole (I had a few big ones, just 1/2 or 1/4 them)
– 4 – 5 cloves unpeeled garlic
– tsp salt
– big glug olive oil
– drizzle of maple syrup (optional)

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

Add the tomatoes to a baking dish. Scatter over the garlic cloves and salt, a glug of olive oil and drizzle of maple syrup if using. Toss roughly.

Roast for and hour to an hour and a half. They should have burst through their skins. Remove from oven.

Leave to cool slightly and pass through a mouli to remove the skins.

Keep refrigerated for up to 5 days, or freeze in portions.

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