France is full of sauces. If you are going to categorise French food broadly, you might say – meat, sauce, butter, baked goods. It is pretty accurate – one of my comprehensive books on French cooking contains 2 salads (and some vegetable recipes). To be fair, the salads can be the base for many variations. And to be more than fair, I have spent time working in France so know that there is a large variety of salads. But, yes, meat is the focus.
So, with a love of French food, we pick and choose from amongst the cuisine, and make to our vegetarian style.
This is a beautiful version of a Tomato Sauce – one to add to our many tomato sauces – and, like the others, it freezes very well. Similar to many French recipes, there is a base sauce, beautiful on its own, and a few variations of sauce that can be made with the addition of one or two more ingredients.
Sauce de Tomate | French Tomato Sauce
1 onion, minced
1 carrot, minced
1 branch celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tblspn plain flour
1 cup vegetable stock or water
4 cups fresh tomatoes, diced, or 3 cups tinned Italian plum tomatoes
sea salt to taste
2 pinches black pepper
1 Tblspn sugar
sprig each of parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, tied together with kitchen string
Simmer the onion, carrot, celery and garlic in butter for 20 mins in a covered pan. Stir in the flour and cook without browning for 3 mins.
Add the remainder of the ingredients. Simmer on low for about 2 hours to develop flavour. Stir often. If needed, add more stock or water.
Remove the herbs and blend the sauce or pass through the finest disc of a food mill. Taste and adjust seasonings. Use or freeze.
Variations on Sauce de Tomate
Add 1 tspn oregano and a few leaves sweet basil to the sauce for the last 10 minutes of cooking. Add 2 Tblspn marsala (optional) and some chopped parsley. Great with pasta.
Add 2 more garlic cloves to the sauce when cooking. Stir some chopped parsley and sauteed onions through the finished sauce just before using.
Add 1 tspn dried basil, 0.5 tspn fennel seeds and a pinch of saffron threads to the sauce while cooking. Stir chopped parsley through the finished sauce.