This is where it all starts. A large pot of tomatoes simmering with herbs and onions on the stovetop is perhaps the iconic image of Italian cooking.
For this recipe, don’t even try to use fresh tomatoes unless you can find very fresh, in-season tomatoes. Using bland winter tomatoes will leave you with a lackluster sauce. If you’re in doubt, just use good canned tomatoes. They work really well. If you do find yourself with perfect, fresh tomatoes, see "Working with Fresh Tomatoes" at right for advice on preparing them for your sauce.
Fresh tomatoes will add at least an hour onto your total cooking time for a marinara sauce, but your sauce will have a slightly fresher taste. It’s not worth it, though, unless you can find very good, fresh tomatoes. I prefer to use Roma tomatoes when I make it.
To prepare the tomatoes, start by cutting a small × in the bottom of the tomato with a sharp knife. Dunk the tomatoes in boiling water for about 30 to 45 seconds, then remove the tomatoes with a slotted spoon and let them cool briefly.
Using your hands, peel off the tomato skins. Assuming you have ripe tomatoes, they should slip out of their skins without too much trouble. Use your hands to roughly rip apart the tomatoes, saving the juices. Add the dissected tomatoes to a large bowl. After all your tomatoes have been juiced, add the juice (being sure to strain it first to remove seeds) back in with the tomatoes. It’s okay if a few seeds are in the mix, but try to get rid of most of them, as they will never cook down.
Use the fresh tomatoes and juice for the Slow-Cooked Marinara Sauce recipe.
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