This sauce is for making when plum tomatoes are at their peak, when the flavor of the fruit shines through, and all that is needed is quality olive oil, fresh garlic, salt, pepper and a bit of time. Sweet basil, freshly sliced at the last minute, is more than welcome but not necessary.
- 3 pounds ripe plum tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 to 3 large cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- Fresh basil, for serving
- Bring a large pot half-full of water to a boil and get an ice water bath (large heatproof bowl) ready. When the water is at a full boil, add one-third of the tomatoes and simmer until some of the skins start to split, about 3 minutes. Transfer the tomatoes to the ice water using a slotted spoon. Let stand for a minute or two, until cool enough to handle, then peel those tomatoes with a small sharp knife and place in a medium bowl to catch any juices. Repeat with the remaining tomatoes in 2 more batches.
- Trim, quarter and seed the peeled tomatoes; return to the bowl. Crush the tomato quarters with your hands and reserve.
- Place the oil and garlic in wide pot (6 to 8 qts) or a deep skillet over medium low heat. Cook stirring until the garlic is golden but not brown. Add the tomatoes, partially cover and cook over medium-low, stirring often to prevent scorching, until sauce is thickened and tomato bits are very tender, 1-1½ hours. Season with salt and pepper and let cool until ready to use.