Need help with spaghetti sauce using homegrown tomatoes!

If I make meatballs, does that mean that my sauce cannot have meat? I'm going to try not to use tomato paste. Any tips on how to make the sauce thick without using tomato paste? Any suggestions will be helpful!



Scottielew September 21, 2013
That's awesome! Thank you so much Victoria!

Voted the Best Reply!

cookinginvictoria September 20, 2013
Thanks for citing my article sexyLAMBCHOPx. Totally agree with Chef June, pierino and emiko. With ripe, home grown tomatoes there is no need to add other ingredients that will detract from the fresh tomato flavors. I am of the school that simple is best -- just tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, salt and basil are pretty much all that are necessary to make the perfect sauce.

However, since writing that article, pierino shared with me this post from Daily Zester by cookbook author Julia della Croce. She calls for using a smidgen of tomato paste (just a tablespoon or two) in her marinara. I was skeptical -- since I always reduce my marinara sauce to thicken it -- but this is what she says:

"To answer why not just reduce the sauce more rather than use tomato paste: The longer you reduce, i.e. evaporate the tomato sauce, the further away you are getting from the clear taste of the tomato. Just that bit of paste (preferably high quality, Italian tomato paste) adds body without you having to overcook the whole batch in order to thicken. Meatless tomato sauces such as this one are a different type and have different properties than ragù, meat sauces, which do have to cook for a long time to enable the meat to tenderize. Meatless tomato sauces are best cooked for a short time for the best true tomato flavor."

I have tried this with high quality canned tomatoes (DOP San Marzano tomatoes) and was very pleased with the results. I added just a tablespoon of paste and cooked the sauce extremely quickly. The sauce was really delicious. It tasted like vibrant, fresh tasting tomatoes, not tomato paste-y at all. So I would recommend adding a tiny amount of tomato paste if your tomatoes are at all watery or next time you make marinara from canned tomatoes. Good luck!
Scottielew September 20, 2013
Chef June and Lamb Chop...thank you so much!
ChefJune September 20, 2013
You need neither tomato paste nor meat to make a fabulous tomato sauce with your home grown tomatoes. There's a fabulous "Genius" Tomato Sauce from Marcella Hazan here on food52 that you might like to try. We love it with meatballs!
sexyLAMBCHOPx September 20, 2013
cookinginvictoria wrote a very informative article about making marina sauce that may be helpful with your tomatoes:
Emiko September 20, 2013
What Pierino said. Using fresh tomatoes makes wonderful sauce; no need for tomato paste to thicken it, just cook until it reduces, it'll become the perfect consistency (not too thick, not watery). Also, remove the seeds from the tomatoes before putting in the pan, they'll make it more watery.
Scottielew September 20, 2013
Thank you! I really appreciate it!
pierino September 19, 2013
Meat on meat is kind of a bad idea---or at least it is in Italy. But it sounds like you are going Italian-American which is a different ballgame. In Italy you will never encounter spaghetti and meatballs. They would be separate courses. Americans tend to dump in a ton of tomato paste even though it's not necessary at all. If you have home grown tomatoes that's all you need---along with aromatics like onion, carrot and garlic. The rest is up to you. Your sauce, at least in my opinion, should not be thick. Italians like it loose, just clinging to the pasta shape.
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