Sorry for the long-winded headline. But, there is an undeniable truth appended to the oversized introduction. That is “If you want a magnificent tomato sauce, you have to use fantastic tomatoes. “Snicker, snicker, snicker.”, you may reply. That’s because you wouldn’t recognise a magnificent tomato if you met it in the street. On our recent French holiday, while attending the Saturday market in St. Foy Le Grande, I met plenty of fine tomato specimens right there on the thoroughfare. Rather than tell you, let me show you.
It’s not that there is a tomato stall. The place was full of tomato stalls. All selling incredible, fresh, delicious tomatoes.
One even thought it would be best to mix things up.
Having been tempted by all this tomatoeness, I thought I ought to cook something. I selected three massive tomatoes and bought some fresh squid. It would have been rude to walk by the fresh pasta stall, particularly since the Italian guy running it learned his English in Dublin. So all I was missing was some fresh parsley, shallots and garlic (The chap on that stall was pure French) and some local wine. Another grower / producer sold us a lovely bottle of (award-winning) Bergerac wine.
The three tomatoes weighed over a kilo between them. I placed them in a large pot of hot water to break and loosen the skin.
A couple of minutes in hot water does wonders for the skin.
I sliced the tomatoes and removed the seeds.
This left me with a big bowl of tomato pulp. I put that to one side, sliced the shallots (2 bulbs) and the garlic (2 cloves). I sweated these down in a little olive oil.
Next, I added the tomatoes.
I turned the heat down to very low and simmered the tomatoes, garlic and shallots for about two hours. This reduced everything to a thick flavoursome sauce. I then added a handful of chopped parsley.
I then added about a glass of the wine. We were to drink the same wine with the meal so having it in the sauce has a great harmonising effect.
I then tasted and seasoned the sauce. It had about another half hour of reduction to go. While this was going on, I prepared the squid. I will spare you the detail. You can get full instructions on how to do it here. One picture will be enough.
With about five minutes to go to serving, I added the squid. Any longer and it would be chewy and not very nice.
The fresh pasta needed to be warmed through by the sauce.
When that was done, I served this delicious meal.
The sun was just starting to go down on a lovely, warm, French summer’s evening. We really enjoyed this fresh tomato based dish with a glass or two of local Bergerac wine. If you have access to great, big, tomatoes, give it a go. It takes ages to get the sauce to the right consistency. But, it really is worth the time and effort.
Footnote for tomato fetishests: On a previous trip to a different part of La Belle France, I prepared a similar (yet different) tomato sauce to use on pizza. The link is here, if you are really interested.