This classic tomato and pasta dish emphasizes the freshness of the tomatoes, which have antiangiogenic, microbiome-enhancing, and DNA-protective benefits. Adding mushrooms or eggplant is optional, but if you enjoy the taste then both vegetables are good sources of bioactives and immunity-stimulating dietary fiber.
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Prep time: 30-40 minutes
- 2-3 pounds firm ripe tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, Roma, or other plum-type tomatoes.
- 1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
- ½ small onion, finely chopped
- Fresh mushrooms of your choice, sliced (optional)
- 1 eggplant, cubed – preferably with the skin on, but it can also be removed (optional)
- ½ teaspoon crushed pepper (optional)
Preparation – Tomato Puree
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Prepare a large bowl of ice water and place next to the stove. Working in batches, add 3-4 tomatoes at a time to the boiling water. Boil for 45-90 seconds, until the skin starts to crack. Remove with a slotted spoon and drop into the ice water.
Peel the tomatoes, cut in half lengthways, and remove stems and all seeds, and discard. Place the tomatoes in a colander to drain as much excess water as possible. In batches, add the tomatoes to your food processor or blender, and process until smooth.
Preparation – Tomato Sauce
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or wide heavy saucepan over a medium-high heat. Add the onion and the mushrooms, if using, and sauté 2-3 minutes. If adding eggplant, add ½ a cup of water and sauté covered for an additional 2-3 minutes (until the water evaporates). Add the garlic and crushed red pepper, if using, and sauté until the garlic becomes fragrant. Be careful not to brown!
Add about 2 cups of tomato puree. Season with salt. Cook the sauce for 20-30 mins. Add half of the fresh basil. Serve with your favorite pasta (spaghetti suggested). Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over the top, sprinkle with the remaining basil, and top with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, if desired.
You can make bigger batches of tomato puree and store in mason jars following proper canning instructions. Season with salt before adding the sauce to the jars. In a pinch, extra tomato puree can also be frozen. Tomato puree can be used as a quick pizza sauce – just add some olive oil, salt, and oregano to taste.