Recipes from Provençe
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Thick Tomato, Onion and Basil sauce

By Philippe Broad

Very simple and easy to prepare, I prefer this highly flavoured sauce with chunky, visible onion pieces to a straightforward tomato sauce. It is excellent with pasta and keeps well in the refrigerator for several days. For the purposes of the above recipes, it should be reduced to reach a fairly firm consistency, and then allowed to cool for ease of use.


2 x 1 lb cans chopped Tomatoes
1 jar normal Pesto sauce
2 fairly large Onions medium sliced
2 large cloves Garlic, chopped
4 tbsp olive Oil
1 Bay leaf
1 sprig Thyme
Leaves from 2 sprigs Basil, chopped
Pepper from the mill


  1. Peel and halve the onions vertically, then medium slice. Peel the garlic and finely chop. Prepare the basil. Drain any excess juice from the tomatoes and reserve in a glass.
  1. In a deep lidded pan, gently sweat the onions with the bay leaf and thyme in the olive oil for two minutes, then add the garlic. Season with salt and pepper and allow to cook gently for a further two minutes. Add the drained tomatoes, cover and simmer over a medium heat.

    A good tomato sauce gains flavour with cooking but depending on the level of natural sugars in the tomatoes and onions, it may caramelise (i.e. stick to the bottom) earlier than expected. This is not a problem. Simply stir the sauce briskly with a wooden spoon, scraping the browned bottom of the pan, to redistribute the liquids evenly and dissolve the caramel. If this does not work, continue the scraping process adding the reserved juice from the tomatoes, progressively. The sauce may darken a little, but its flavour will be enhanced. Withdraw from heat, remove the bay leaf and thyme and blend in the chopped basil. Check the seasoning and allow to cool.
  1. For the above recipe Warm Canapés from Provence, the sauce should be reduced over a low heat so as to be thick and fairly firm once at room temperature.

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