I love this robust, flavourful tomato sauce and it is difficult to imagine Italian cookery without it. There are few more simple and satisfying summer dishes than this sauce served over a plate of pasta with a little grated cheese! This is one of the most widely used sauces – with fish, poultry, meat, vegetables, rice, pasta or eggs, or as a base for other sauces or dishes. You can make this sauce fresh or you can bottle it. In the fridge it will last for up to 2 weeks. You can also sterilise sauces and ketchup after cooking. I will tell you later how to do that.
15 ml olive oil (1 tablespoon)
1 small onion peeled and finely chopped
1 kg ripe tomatoes, skinned and quartered or a large tin of tomatoes (825 g)
1 bay leave
1 sprig thyme
30 ml (2 tablespoons) red wine (optional but very lekker!!
1 clove garlic finely chopped
1 ml salt
1 ml sugar
1 ml freshly ground black pepper
10 ml lemon juice or vinegar
½ teaspoon each finely chopped fresh basil and marjoram or ¼ teaspoon each dried basil and marjoram
Heat the oil in a large, heavy based pan. Add the onion and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until it is soft but not brown.
Put the tomatoes in the pan with the bay leave, thyme, wine, garlic and salt. Stir, cover and simmer until tender.
Rub through sieve and return to the cleaned pan. Bring to the boil and cook for about 20 minutes until reduced to a puree.
Season the sauce with the sugar, pepper, lemon juice and remaining herbs. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Sterilise low-acid sauces and ketchups immediately after bottling.
If the bottles are sealed with screw caps, tighten them, then give a half turn back.
Use a deep saucepan, and make a false bottom with folded newspapers or straw.
Stand the prepared bottles on the false bottom, making sure that they do not touch each other or the sides. Use small pads of newspaper to keep them apart.
Add enough cold water to reach the bottom of the screw tops.
Heat the water to 77 degrees C. If you do not have a thermometer, heat slowly for about 1 hour until tiny bubbles are rising continually from the bottom of the pan.
Keep the water at this temperature for about 30 minutes.
Remove the bottles from the pan and tighten the tops.
Your Napolitana sauce can now be stored for up to a year!
Keep in fridge after opening.