I traveled to Florence Italy to work with Chef Stefano and learn how to make THE best fresh tomato sauce! Sharing is love. Let’s make it!
Pasta Fresh Tomato Sauce
I had the amazing pleasure of doing a day of cooking with Chefs Stefano and Chef Matteo of The Cooking Touch in Florence Italy. Yes, it’s an authentic Tuscan cooking experience!
The location of the cooking ‘school’ which is actually a beautiful apartment gives you an unforgettable experience in an unforgettable location.
The space is both elegant and refined, but definitely devoted to cooking. Fine taste is found throughout, sophisticated and custom-made furniture, then there are the massive windows that not only bring the outside in, but you feel like you can almost touch the Ponte Vecchio. Ancient Florence is right there as you’re chopping, slicing, dicing, sipping wine, laughing and learning how simple food can be and easy to prepare without any fussiness.
Italian Tomato Sauce
I’m totally intrigued with their philosophy. It’s so simple and full of love:
“Our philosophy is to enhance the quality of the seasonal ingredients, take care of our guests with a deep passion and consciousness that exemplifies “Cooking for someone is to granting them happiness”.”
Authentic Italian Sauces
Our day started in the morning. Chef Stefano met Ben and me at the Four Seasons Hotel where we were staying. Absolutely full of personality, handsome, young and quite enchanting, we all meandered along the Medieval cobble stone streets to do our shopping.
First we stopped at the butcher’s shop. Chef Stefano asked what I’d like to cook, and definitely without hesitation, I said that I do want to do something with liver, chicken livers! I love them. Oh, goodness, he was as excited as I was. Admitting he doesn’t get many requests for this organ meat, he said he would teach me to make a delicious liver pate sauce. Imagine how excited I am now!
How to Make Tomato Sauce
There are actually three chefs, like the three muskateers, who operate this enterprise. All young and talented chefs, they grew up together and now continue to share their passion of cooking together. So, there’s Stefano, Matteo and Max. They’re somewhat of a motely crew, and you can see the sparkle of mischief in their eyes from the pictures at their website.
Actually that’s what I explored when I was looking for the perfect cooking experience that would match my personality. Yes, I combed through several options, and when I looked at their website, read their philosophy and meandered through their pages, there was not a shred of doubt in my mind. THIS was where I wanted to learn to make pasta and the best easiest tomato sauce as well as other things!
Tomato Sauce with Fresh Tomatoes
And, I was selfish. I wanted all of their attention. I wanted to absorb every second of what we were doing. So, Ben and I booked a private class. He watched. I cooked!
And, goodness gracious did we have a blast.
After the butcher’s shop where we got our pasture-raised chicken livers, and Stefano said, ‘Those chickens have never seen a pen in their life!’, we also got THE most luscious fresh bread. A huge loaf. Yes, this would be for crostini, bruschetta, our liver pate sauce.
Tomatoes for Pasta Sauce
We then proceeded down more narrow cobblestone streets. Shopkeeper just waking to the day’s work. Busy and bustling, it was invigorating. Stefano spoke excellent English, and as we walked we chattered like school girls. At one point, we felt rain drops! Something glorious because there hadn’t been rain in Florence for almost four months. Then more then rain drops, there was actual rain! It was like God approved of our day and was rewarding us!
We dashed into a small coffee shop. Ordered cappuccinos and continued to talk about life, living, his world, my world and more. Rather than follow along, Ben had decided to hang out at the cooking location and just soak in the beauty of the scenery and sip on his bubbly water and espresso.
Easy Fresh Tomato Sauce
When the rain, which wasn’t a downpour but a nice soaking, stopped, we walked to the small postage stamp sized market on a narrow side street. Vegetables and fruits abounded in rainbow colors on each side of the small door into the store.
Stefano explained that the owners, who’d been there for years and years, owned a farm and most all of what we were seeing was literally raised by them. Yes, truly fresh and on the vines the night before, he chose every ingredient as I watched him negotiate with the shop owners for the best peaches, the most luscious tomatoes, the freshest herbs.
Fresh Homemade Tomato Sauce
Watching Stefano make this sauce was like a small symphony. He kept a big pot of water near the tomato sauce as he started with the onions and garlic. Getting the onions to translucent takes time, maybe 18 to 20 minutes, and you don’t want at any time for the onions to dry out. So, we would add about a cup plus of water when needed and let the onions continue at a simmering boil (uncovered).
Same when we put the fresh chopped tomatoes in and the entire stem of basil. As he said, there’s much flavoring in the stem. Continue to add water to the tomatoes as they’re cooking and breaking down losing the acidity. Also, once those garlic cloves as nice and creamy tender, remove them, cool and then just peel off the outer layer, then toss into the pot the creamy delicious garlic with the tomatoes.
Best Italian Tomato Sauce from Fresh Tomatoes
I’m certain that what makes this sauce so delicious is the quality of the ingredients you use. Definitely try to find local tomatoes that actually taste like a tomato.
You can use heirloom or another type of tomato as long as it’s fresh and a real tomato, not hot house type (they have little flavor!).
And, if push comes to shove, use canned San Marzano or Roma tomatoes from Italy. It’s the soil and the sun that make such an amazing difference in taste. That’s important. For some canned options, check my Amazon Storefront!
- 1 red onion, medium size, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, do not peel
- 10-12 Roma tomatoes, medium to large size, large dice, can substitute 28 oz. can San Marzano or Roma tomatoes
- 4 Tbl. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 basil stem, large, with leaves + more for serving
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Serving: Fresh basil leaves and Parmigiano Reggiano
- Chop the red onion. Put in a large sauce pan with two cloves of garlic “in
camicia” (that means keep the skin on), a teaspoon of salt and the extra virgin
- Cook at medium temperature until the onion is completely translucent
in order to loose all the acidity (if is gets dry add some water in order to avoid
burning the onion). This can take about 20 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, the whole stem of basil and two teaspoons of salt and cook for 20 to 25 minutes. Fish out the garlic pieces and remove the skins. Return garlic to sauce.
- Just remember to add some water when the sauce is getting dry. At the end adjust the flavor according to your personal taste with salt and black pepper.
- Once the sauce is done, you have several options for the finish. You can leave as is, somewhat chunky. You can puree. Or you can do as I did and use an immersion blender to blend well and have a more smooth consistency.
- Serve with some fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano and fresh basil.