This recipe is an adaption from Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce With Onion & Butter. When I saw the original recipe, I was excited with how much opportunity I had to make my own additions. While the original recipe calls for fresh or canned tomatoes, I decided to use fresh and blanch them myself. I found that this makes the sauce much lighter and brighter. If you want more of that authentic tomato flavor, feel free to add tomato paste (this should also help thicken up the sauce a bit). I decided to use the roasted garlic cloves to give the sauce deeper, garlicky undertones. The bird's eye chili is used to offset the one-noted, slightly heavy creaminess of all the butter and to give the sauce a constant zing on the tongue. I added the cumin because it is a spice I use in much of my cooking. Finally, the arugula was added because I love having some sort of green in my tomato sauce. Feel free to take this out or substitute with your own green (spinach, kale, etc.). I used arugula just because it has a peppery bite that I love so much. Enjoy! —Jordan Benzaken
fresh, ripe tomatoes, prepared as described below
Wrap the garlic cloves in aluminum foil and put them in the oven to roast at 345ºF. Take them out once they are soft and slightly golden (about 15-25 minutes).
Blanch the fresh, ripe tomatoes in salted boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Drain them, and as soon as they are cool enough to handle, skin them. Cut the tomatoes into coarse pieces.
Put the prepared fresh tomatoes in a saucepan, add the butter, onion, peeled garlic cloves, chilis, cumin, black pepper, and salt. Cook uncovered at a steady simmer for 35-45 minutes, or until it is thickened to your liking.
Stir from time to time and use the back of a wooden spoon to mash up the large pieces of tomatoes.
Taste and correct for salt. Once the onions are soft and the sauce consistency is to your liking (feel free to drain any excess liquid), add the arugula. Cook and stir until well combined.
Before using the sauce, you may remove the onion, but many opt to leave it in.