Fresh Tomato Sauce
Salsa di Pomodoro

serves: 2 1/2 cups

As a child the tomato sauce we made was for immediate consumption at the height of the season. For winter use, we made tomato paste, but preferred our fresh sauce and did without when the season was over. Because this is a quick sauce, its flavor won't be affected by the inclusion of tomato seeds, which impart some bitterness to slowly cooked sauces. If you prefer to eliminate the seeds for aesthetic reasons, lightly squeeze the tomatoes over a sieve, set over a bowl to catch the juice, after peeling them. Reserve juice. If you like your sauce very smooth (I don't), puree the tomatoes in a food processor.

2½ pounds ripe plum tomatoes
1 cup onion, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
8 leaves fresh basil, minced


With the point of a paring knife cut out and discard the stem bases of the tomatoes, removing small cones about 1/4-inch deep, then lightly cut X-shapes on the tomatoes' opposite ends.

Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan, drop in the tomatoes, and cook 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatoes to a colander, run cold water over them, and slip their skins off with your fingers.

In a nonreactive saucepan, lightly sauté the onion in the olive oil. Add the tomatoes, crushing each directly over the pan as it is added. Add the reserved juice if the tomatoes have been seeded. Season to taste and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the basil before serving.