I love tomatoes. I love fresh basil. I love the smell of sauteed onion and garlic in olive oil. And I love making this pasta sauce. I call it pasta sauce, though I serve it over greens like arugula, lacinato kale, spinach (not baby, use mature), or dandelion greens, instead of pasta. This keeps it lighter, healthier and anti-inflammatory. The ingredients are fresh and vibrant. This is an energizing dinner. I use grass fed beef here in this recipe, but I also sometimes skip the beef, which is high in Omega-3s, and use adzuki beans. They’re flavorful. I buy the Eden Foods brand (no BPA lined cans). They’re high in protein, fiber, and magnesium, zinc, B vitamins, and so much more! Or if you just want a great, simple, tasty tomato sauce, skip the beef and the beans. If you do this, skip the red wine, you don’t really need it to enhance the flavors of your farmers market or garden fresh tomatoes!
For this recipe, if you have the time and inclination, use fresh tomatoes, score the skin with an “X”, blanch them, and then peel the skin off. Slice them into bite-sized chunks. You’ll need about 8 big tomatoes. Or use two 28 ounce cans of whole peeled tomatoes. Again, use tomatoes that are in BPA-free lined cans like Eden Foods or in tetra-packs.
The resin linings of tin cans contain bisphenol-A (BPA). BPA is a synthetic estrogen. It has been linked to ailments ranging from reproductive problems to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. The acidity in tomatoes causes BPA to leach into your food. “As Frederick Vom Saal, an endocrinologist at the University of Missouri who studies bisphenol-A, says, ‘You can get 50 mcg of BPA per liter out of a tomato can, and that’s a level that is going to impact people, particularly the young. I won’t go near canned tomatoes.'” (From EatLocalGrown.com) So, take it from people in the know, and avoid all BPA lined cans. Stick with glass jars or tetra paks or BPA-free tin cans when buying tomatoes or any food.
I prefer fresh herbs with this sauce. I like a mixture of parsley (Italian flat leaf) and basil but you can use whichever blend you prefer.
Fresh Herb Tomato Sauce
(serves 4 with leftovers)
- 8 big organic tomatoes, blanched, peeled and sliced OR two 28 ounce cans of organic, whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 medium white onion, finely diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, use more or less depending on your taste for spiciness
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon smoky paprika
- 2 cup fresh herbs, basil and parsley, chopped
- Juice from 1/2 fresh lemon
- 1/2 cup red wine, optional
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more if needed
- Fresh cracked pepper, to taste
- 1 pound ground 100% grass fed beef or 1 can organic adzuki beans
- 2 anchovy filets, optional
- 1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar, optional
- 2 tablespoons organic tomato paste, optional
- In a sauce pan add olive oil, heat at about medium/medium high, add salt, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, and paprika, and allow spices to infuse the oil. Once the oil is medium hot, add the onion, cook onion until caramelized, add the minced garlic, cook for a minute or two, (optional for extra depth of flavor, add the 2 anchovy filets, break them apart with your cooking spoon). Add half the chopped fresh herbs. Allow to wilt, about 1 minute. Add the grass fed beef or the adzuki beans (if using beans, cook for half the time of the beef before adding the liquids), cook the beef until medium rare, add the wine, continuing to stir the beef or the beans.
- If you’re using canned tomatoes, chop them in bite-sized chunks, reserving the liquid. Add the tomatoes and then half the liquid from one can. If you want a soupier sauce, use all the liquid. Or if you want thicker, skip adding the liquid altogether. (Sometimes a nice hearty soupy sauce is good in a bowl, topped with dressed greens.) Squeeze the juice from half a lemon into the mixture. This makes for a nice contrast with the sweetness of the tomatoes. Allow the sauce to cook on a low heat for at least 15 minutes, more is better. After 15 minutes, add the rest of the fresh herbs (about 1 cup). Finish with a little balsamic vinegar, if you have the good, aged kind. Adjust seasoning to taste with the fresh cracked pepper and salt.
- Serve over a bed of fresh greens. I like to dress the greens with a small bit of lemon juice, olive oil, and salt. This sauce will keep for several days, and each day it gets better tasting.
*Note: if you want a thicker sauce add a couple of tablespoons of organic tomato paste to the sauce when you add the whole peeled tomatoes. I don’t mind a soupier sauce but some of you prefer a nice, thick sauce. And if that’s the case with you, add a little high quality tomato paste.
About the Author: Tania Van Pelt is the creator of Happiness Series. She is a writer and content creator, working in film, tv, and online. She wrote the popular lifestyle book "Ageless Diet," published in late 2015. And she is currently working on her next book. She also developed a sitcom pilot set in the restaurant business called "Employees Only TV" and is developing another web series comedy about Denver.