Cabernet Parmesan Tomato Sauce

By • October 2, 2014 0 Comments

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Cabernet Parmesan Tomato Sauce

Author Notes: What do you mean you buy your tomato sauce in a can, bro?
It's entirely too easy to make your own fresh, flavorful tomato sauce for pizza, pastas, to cut into salsas, or even as a dip for pita bread.
Make a ton of it in advance and freeze or can for later use. Or make it as you need it. While it is a little time consuming, it's undeniably one of the easiest ways to save money on a kitchen staple, and take greater control over what you are putting in your body. Ever read the ingredients on a can or jar of store-bought tomato sauce? Put down that jar of high fructose corn syrup and salt and head to the produce stand and let's make the real deal.
This recipe makes a savory and delicious pasta or pizza sauce, but by substituting ingredients, you could turn it into a spicy marinara or salsa very easily. Remember, the finished product is only as good as the base ingredients, so get yourself to a produce stand, buy some decent wine, and select herbs and spices you trust or grew yourself.


Serves 8-10

  • 2 pounds Ripe Heirloom Tomatoes
  • 2 pounds Ripe Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1 Red Onion, fine mince
  • 2 Bayleaves
  • 1 bunch Italian (flat leaf) parsely
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 teaspoons Bacon Fat
  • 2 teaspoons Schmaltz or Chicken Fat
  • 4 tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 1/2 liter Good Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
  1. In a large pot, bring enough salted water to cover all your tomatoes to a boil. Drop the kids in and watch as your friend who loves tomatoes screams in horror that you're "boiling my babies!!" There is much argument as to how long a tomato needs to blanch to be skinned. I eschew all specific time recommendations and just keep an eye on things and remove the tomatoes as I see the skin start to split and separate from the meat of the fruit. It takes longer for smaller tomatoes, something I find curious.
  2. In a heavy, deep dutch oven, heat the bacon fat, Schmaltz, and olive oil over medium-low heat. Any fat will do, and the vegan/vegetarian or health deluded cook can omit the schmaltz and bacon fat, substituting it for olive oil. I was meat-free for three years. People's obsession with "lean" and "fat-free" is delusional, though. Your body needs fat. Ever seen what a vegan or vegetarian can do to an avocado? Just an avocado, by itself? It's because our bodies crave fat, and avocados, like pigs, and chickens and cows have some pretty sweet fat content that we need for flavor and nutritive value.
  3. Prepare an ice water bath in another container. As you see the tomatoes start to lose their skin in the pot of boiling water, carefully remove them to the ice water bath. Skin the first one, and hold it up to your tomato-loving friends horror and say something like "behold the truly naked tomato!" He will run away to cry in another room, allowing you to give your undivided attention to this sauce.
  4. Your Dutch Oven should have a nice coating of melty, delicious fat in it, by now. Lower the heat and add the onions, stirring to coat everyone evenly in the hot fat. We aren't going for caramelized here, but the onions need to be soft, with no bite, because your friends hate onions and you refuse to make a pasta sauce without them.
  5. As the onions soften, continue to keep your eye on the tomatoes, removing them as needed from the boil to the ice-bath, and peeling as they cool off. Roughly chop the peeled tomatoes. Or, using a sturdy potato masher and a fine mesh colander, smash the little fruits to oblivion, making sure to reserve plenty of the liquid that comes out of them.
  6. By now, you should have some pretty soft onions. Add the garlic and bay leaf and cover the dutch oven. Open the wine, and pour yourself a nice glass.
  7. Stir the onions and garlic a few times while you contemplate the vintage you're drinking, and what you're about to do with half the bottle.
  8. Deglaze the dutch oven with a splash or two of the Cab Sav, making sure to scrape the bottom for any of those delicious browned bits we all obsess over.
  9. Add the tomatoes, several entire parsley sprigs, the other bay leaf, and half the bottle -that's right, half a bottle- of wine. Now, lament that you'd rather be drinking that wine rather than watching the alcohol boil right out of it, as you turn the heat up to medium-high, and cover the dish.
  10. Stir often, and keep things at a rapid simmer -not a boil- for days if you can manage it. Add the Tomato Paste. I have always relied on Cento Tomato paste in the tube or can if I know I'm going to be using a lot of it. It will thicken the sauce significantly. Taste. and adjust salt and pepper as needed. You'll know it's done when it's thickened and most of the water has left the dutch oven.
  11. Now it's just a waiting game. As long as you regularly check the sauce, making sure it doesn't reduce to burn by adding more wine, maybe some butter, or even water, you could technically spend a week cooking this. As the tomatoes break down, they absorb all the flavors of the parsley, wine, garlic, onion, and any other savouries you've put in there (oregano, basil, whatever) and the longer the sauce simmers, the better it will taste. I've found forty five minutes to an hour is my limit; between the smell and regularly tasting the sauce, it becomes rather hard to resist.
  12. For the final thickening step, break out the parmesan cheese. First, though you'll want to crank the heat until the sauce is practically boiling. You may even have to add some water if it's gotten really thick. Once the stuff is piping hot, stir in the parmesan in small batches and watch as your initially watery sauce comes together into a velvety rich gastronomic wonder. Taste, and adjust salt as necessary.
  13. Serve over pasta, on a pizza, as a dipping sauce, freeze the leftovers in air-tight containers, and never again buy another can of Ragu.

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