Simple Homemade Tomato Sauce

tomato sauce

Every freezer should be stocked with this simple and healthy tomato sauce – it can be used in a myriad of different dishes, and makes life easier for busy moms! Just got home from work and need to make dinner in under half an hour? Defrost this sauce and serve it with some buckwheat or quinoa pasta for a quick but still nutritious family meal.

Tomatoes are high in vitamin C and antioxidants, particularly lycopene. Researchers recently found a connection between tomatoes and bone health, concluding that tomatoes can help to prevent osteoporosis. They are also important for heart health, and have long been hailed as the anti-prostate cancer food of choice.

I like to make up a batch of this sauce and then freeze some of it in ice trays, so that I have small portions handy for my son’s meals (I use 2 – 3 cubes for him) and freeze the rest in one portion for a family meal.

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Ingredients

2 large onions, chopped
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
6 large cloves of garlic
1/2 cup of red wine (optional)
1.3kg fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped, including seeds
small handful of fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup dried dates
3/4 tsp himalayan salt
a few leaves of fresh basil

Method

Fry the onions in the olive oil until caramelised. Add the garlic and fry for 2 minutes. Add the wine. There should immediately be a cloud of steam, and a strong smell of alcohol. This is the alcohol in the wine cooking off – so don’t worry, there won’t be any alcohol left over in the sauce. You can omit the wine, but it adds depth of flavour.

Add the tomatoes, thyme, bay leaves and dates. Turn the heat down, cover with a lid and simmer for a minimum of 30 minutes. An hour or longer is better – the longer it simmers the more the flavours develop.

Remove the hard stalks of the thyme and then put the sauce in a blender or food processor. For pasta sauces I like a chunkier texture so will use a food processor. For a smoother sauce (for example, for pizza) use a blender. Add the salt and basil and blend until you have the desired consistency. Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Traditionally tomato sauce would have quite a bit of sugar added (you’d be mortified to learn how much sugar there is in store-bought tomato sauce or ketchup!) I avoid this by adding the dates. If you feel that it needs more sweetness, add more dates or raw honey or organic maple syrup. If you feel that it needs more acidity, use fresh lemon or organic apple cider vinegar. This all depends on the natural flavour of the tomatoes you’ve used, so just taste and see!

Use immediately or freeze for future use.

Below are examples of how I would use this sauce:

tomato sauce 2

Here I roasted some aubergine with olive oil, salt and black pepper. I added it to the sauce along with some fresh chilli and basil. Served with buckwheat pasta.

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I fried onion, garlic, carrot, red pepper, broccoli and chilli in olive oil. I added the sauce, cooked brown basmati rice, shredded poached chicken and fresh coriander.

Health & happiness!

Love,
Raine

Gluten-free Zucchini & Buckwheat Pizza

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My son went through a phase where he wanted to eat nothing but pizza. It was driving me crazy (processed white dough, sugary tomato sauce and processed cheese? Not good enough for my boy!) so I came up with this wheat, gluten, sugar and dairy-free recipe using buckwheat and zucchini (AKA courgette or baby marrow.) I was worried that he wouldn’t like it because buckwheat flour has quite a strong flavour but both he and my husband love it! I have since started using buckwheat flour for many recipes.

For the “cheese” I use Yum Universe’s dairy and soy-free recipe for Vegan Ricotta (why improve on perfection?!) It’s a super easy recipe made from cashew nuts.
My husband prefers dairy cheese so I use organic cheddar from grass-fed cows. Sometimes for my son I’ll use a bit of cheddar and some goat’s cheese, as goat’s milk is much more digestible for humans than cow’s milk. He also enjoys the vegan cheese though.

Ingredients

For the base:

1 cup buckwheat flour
3/4 tsp Oryx Desert Salt
1 tsp baking powder (try to use aluminium-free)
1 tbsp chia seeds, ground in a coffee grinder
1 egg (farm-raised)
2 tbsp olive oil
a bit of water
160g raw zucchini

For the sauce:

Olive oil for frying
1 medium size onion, chopped
3 big cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tin organic tomatoes
1 fresh medjool date
1 or 2 leaves of basil
1/2 tsp Oryx Desert Salt
about 1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice

Method

Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and ground chia.
Break the zucchini into chunks and place into a food processor. Blend into fine crumbs, scraping down the sides if necessary to get all the bits the same size. Alternatively, use a grater.
Beat the egg and olive oil together, along with 1 tbsp water, and then add the zucchini.
Combine the wet and dry ingredients. You may need a little bit more water, but make sure to combine everything well before trying to add more. It will seem too dry and then suddenly it will come together into a dough. This is a very sticky dough, so be careful not to add too much water! Place in the fridge while you make the sauce.

Fry the onion in some olive oil until softened. Add the garlic and fry for a few minutes until it starts to caramelise. Add the tin of tomatoes and the date. Turn down the heat, cover with a lid and simmer for at least 30 minutes. The longer it simmers the more the flavour will develop.
Place the sauce in the blender, along with the salt, basil and lemon. Blend until smooth. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. The trick with a good tomato sauce is getting the correct balance between sweet and sour, so don’t be scared to add a bit more lemon or another date if you think it needs it! This sauce freezes very well so I often make a double batch and freeze half for a day when I am in a rush. You could also use it as a base for a pasta sauce.

Preheat the oven to 200 C.
Oil a large baking tray liberally with olive oil. I find it best to make smaller pizzas so that the base cooks evenly and gets nice and crispy on the edges. So use about 60 – 80g of dough per pizza – one is enough for a child, two for a hungry man.
Place your weighed dough on the tray and sprinkle with buckwheat flour (so your fingers don’t stick.) Gently press the dough out with your finger tips until you have a round of thin dough.
At this point I often finely grate some fresh carrot over the base for added veggies. Then cover the base with your sauce. (If using the vegan cheese it helps to make a little “lip” around the edge of the dough and sauce, to stop the cheese running off.)
Now add your toppings. In this photo I’ve used kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes (I use organic, sulphur-free ones which I soak in hot water for a few minutes to soften), onion, basil and avo. Add avo and fresh herbs only after cooking. Other good toppings are caramelised onion, sautéed mushrooms, smoked salmon & rocket… use your imagination!
Now top with your cheese. If using the vegan cheese, simply blend all the ingredients until smooth and then pour directly onto the pizza (rather than heating in a saucepan as the recipe states.) The cheese will thicken as the pizza cooks in the oven. If you have any leftover cheese you can heat it in a saucepan and refrigerate in a jar.

Bake in the oven for about 15 – 20 minutes until crispy around the edges. Yum!

Health & happiness…
Love,
Raine