Stephen King, executive chef at Uisge Restaurant and Bar in Murthly, has created the ultimate tomato sauce.
Optimistically looking forward to some warmer weather and the possibility of some barbecue/al fresco dining I find myself thinking about some nice fresh seasonal flavours and where better to start than the humble tomato.
Often taken for granted fresh tomatoes are such a key versatile ingredient that often get overlooked and replaced with tinned tomatoes for things like sauces.
There’s nothing wrong with using a tin of chopped tomatoes for sauces generally but with tomatoes just around the corner from coming into season try changing the tin for some fresh tomatoes and enjoy the much fresher, sweeter flavour.
To me, the main advantage of tomato season is the availability of heritage (heirloom) tomatoes with the variety of vibrant flavours and colours they are a great addition to any salad to add that fresh look and sweet flavour.
Heritage tomatoes are also fantastic for simple things like bruschetta and really lift the look of the dish with all the different colours. Simply pick a variety of tomatoes and cut them to a nice chunky dice and toss with garlic, fresh basil, olive oil and salt.
Serve this as a side or on some nice crusty bread and drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar or glaze to really bring out the sweetness.
With a base tomato sauce being used in so many different dishes from lasagne to pizza and pasta, I use the same base sauce for almost everything, you can leave it chunky and rustic to toss your favourite filled pasta in or with the growing popularity of home pizza ovens give it a blitz to use as a great sauce for pizza bases.
Chef’s tip: Sweat small diced peppers and chillies with your shallots in the sauce to add a touch of heat a for some spicy pasta.
Stephen King’s versatile tomato sauce
- 1kg fresh tomatoes, diced to 1cm
- 4 large banana shallots, finely diced or sliced
- 5 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- Roughly chopped fresh basil (to taste)
- Salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
- In a heavy based saucepan over a medium heat add the oil, shallots and garlic with a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Gently sweat the shallot, without colouring, until they are nice and soft, add the tomatoes give it a good stir and bring it to a low boil then reduce the heat to a very low simmer and stirring occasionally allow to cook for at least half an hour. The slower you cook it on a nice low heat the richer the flavour will be.
- Remove from the heat and stir through the chopped basil and season to taste. If you want to sweeten it a little more add a teaspoon of balsamic glaze and stir through.Serve with pasta or blitz for a smooth sauce.