This recipe is an adaptation of my Nonni’s tomato sauce brought right over from Italy. She was my great-grandmother, and I don’t remember ever meeting her. But what I do remember is sitting at my grandparents’ house a few times a year while they made huge batches of her tomato sauce. We’re talking 4 pots large enough to fit a small child, each filled with sauce. Everyone got some to take home, to eat or freeze and then heat up again. Well, I didn’t want to make 50 gallons of sauce nor spend hours standing over the stove, stirring sauce every half hour while it simmered. So, here’s the easy-peasy version. I highly HIGHLY recommend both using Roma tomatoes, as well as taking the time to roast them. Roma tomatoes in particular have a much stronger and sweeter flavor than normal tomatoes, and roasting brings it out as well as adds depth to this sauce dish. You can omit the olives if it really isn’t your thing, but it wouldn’t really be Nonni’s sauce if it doesn’t have olives.
6 Roma tomatoes
1 white onion, sliced
olive oil, to drizzle
salt and pepper
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup vegetable broth
28 oz can diced tomatoes
2.25 oz can sliced olives, drained
2 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp basil
1/2 tbsp red pepper flakes
MTC-8016, or other cooker with the Saute Then Simmer or Steam feature
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Turn on the broiler in your oven and line a baking pan with aluminum foil, then set aside. Core your tomatoes by cutting them in half around the equator, then scoop out the seeds and middle. Place on the baking pan and add the sliced onions. Drizzle with a generous amount of olive oil and salt and pepper; mix around so they are evenly coated. Broil the tomatoes and onion in the oven for about 20 minutes, taking it out and mixing around half way through the cooking time. Keep in mind, a little bit of black charring on the veggies is exactly what we are going for here!
Once they are done, carefully remove from the oven and allow to cool. Once the tomatoes and onions are cool, transfer them to a bowl and mash them with a fork or a potato masher until they are chunky and broken down.
Set your rice cooker for STS and add a little bit of oil; close the lid and allow it to heat briefly. If your cooker does not have the STS function, use the Steam setting for 30 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook just long enough to become fragrant, about 60 seconds. Add the olives and saute for another minute or two, allowing them to start softening. Add the roasted tomato and onion mash, can of diced tomatoes with juices, vegetable stock, Italian seasoning, oregano, basil, pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste. Give it all a good stir so it is fully incorporated. Allow the sauce to simmer for at least 15 minutes so the flavors become fully melded; it should be pretty thick. If desired, cancel the STS function and set for Rice, then allow the sauce to slow cook and flavors develop a bit more. Do not cook more than an hour, or the sauce could turn bitter.
Serve over pasta, as a dipping sauce for mozzarella sticks, with bread, or any other way you see fit!