MARINATED TOMATOES AND FRESH HERBS
Even when cooking with oils, fresh herbs rarely flavor a sauce as much as we think they should. Dried herbs are always needed in addition to the fresh. We usually add the fresh right at the end of cooking time for best result, but even then, the flavor effect is minimal – from the fresh herbs.
Now that we’re not using oils, I’m looking for new ways to flavor sauces – especially tomato sauces. Instead of doing the ‘add at end of cooking time’ thing, I decided to marinate the tomatoes that I would be using in the sauce with the fresh herbs and let them sit in the refrigerator for a day or two or three.
I added .75 oz. each of fresh oregano and fresh basil, washed well, to a quart jar with 2, 28 oz. cans of San Marzano Tomatoes.
When first tasted after marinating, I didn’t taste anything that resembled an herb. When I heated the tomatoes and herbs in a saucepan, that’s when the flavors emerged and stayed prominent throughout the cooking of the sauce.
In the past, when making a soup and before adding the oils I would notice that the flavors after adding the oils became markedly muted. So, I’m wondering if the same would have happened with the tomato sauce had I added oil (which I didn’t). It just seemed that the herbs were especially prominent.
I’m beginning to think that the amount of flavor additives needed in an oiled sauce are greater than a non oiled sauce – or soup. The oil keeps the herbs and/or veggies from exhibiting their natural scents and flavors to their full potential.
If you like fresh herbs, try marinating them with the tomatoes before adding both to your sauce. See if you like it. I know I did. I didn’t need dried herbs with the sauce I made from these marinated tomatoes and fresh herbs. That’s a first – for me.