My former superior, Chef Luigi Carola, comes from Naples -- the city known for the best plum tomatoes in the world, and of course, pizza.
Luigi to me, is more than just a mentor. He's become a very good friend through the years. In the 5 years I've worked for him, he's shared so many recipes, ingenious ways of cracking R&D (research and development) formulations for my prototypes, imaginative ways of working with other nationalities, and brilliant ways of leading other people to get our projects going. We've eaten from fancy to hole-in-the-wall restaurants all over Asia, the Middle East, and the US -- I wish I had kept a journal of all the places, because not once did he make me try a vapid place.
And so, when I think of basic tomato sauce, a few recipes come to mind. Wanting to put things into perspective, and to add a bit of authenticity, I'd like to share one that comes from a chef who grew up in Naples.
Saute a clove of garlic, two shallots, and a piece of red onion.
Once the onions are translucent, add a tin of tomatoes and bring to a boil. Then gently simmer with a sprig of thyme (optional). Let this simmer until the tomato sauce gets thick. Then season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Set aside and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil to finish it off.
Luigi, I miss working with you. And some day, I'm going to visit you in Germany or Italy with The Young Tongue and you will be just as surprised to see her eat as much as her la mamma or even more!