Sauce vierge (literally, virgin sauce) was created in 1976 by Michel Guérard, one of the forces behind the lighter, fresher nouvelle cuisine that sprang up in reaction to cuisine classique, dripping with all its hefty mother sauces. There have emerged only a few non-negotiables: fresh tomato, olive oil, lemon juice, and fresh herbs—but from there it's up to you. In this way, sauce vierge is a true foundational mother sauce, one from which we can build many. Adapted very loosely from La Cuisine Gourmande by Michel Guérard (1977). —Genius Recipes
about 2 cups sauce, or 4 servings
large, very ripe tomatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
whole, peeled garlic cloves, lightly smashed
roughly chopped fresh herbs (any combination of chives, tarragon, parsley, basil, chervil, basil, cilantro)
Roughly chop the tomatoes (peel and seed them first if you like, but we prefer not to). Mix with the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl, cover, and leave to sit at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours; alternately, mix the ingredients in a saucepan and simmer the sauce very slowly over low heat for 30 minutes.
Taste and adjust the seasoning, remove the cloves of garlic, and serve warm or room temperature, over fish, pasta, chicken, or anything else summer throws at you.