Take Two®

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by A Martínez

'Charcutería' author Jeffrey Weiss shares recipe for Tomate Frito

by Take Two®

The cover of author Jeffrey Weiss' new book, "Charcuteria, the Soul of Spain."

Take Two host A Martinez talks to Jeffrey Weiss about his new book, "Charcutería: The Soul of Spain," which explores the surprising culture and techniques of meat preservation.

He also shares some of his favorite recipes, like the Tomate Frito: 

This standard Spanish tomato sauce plays an essential part in a lot of recipes so I always have some on hand. Tomate Frito, which basically translates as 'fried tomato sauce,' gets its unique flavor from frying ingredients in order to bring out their inherent sweetness and remove some of the acidity and canned flavor from the tomatoes.

Since this recipe uses just a few ingredients, it’s imperative that everything is the best you can find. Look for ingredients like great olive oil and canned San Marzano tomatoes (yes, even the Spaniards bow to those great Italian tomatoes when their fresh crops aren’t in season). Otherwise, if you want to make this recipe with fresh tomatoes during tomato season, you can use an equal amount of high-quality fresh tomatoes like dry-farmed Early Girls (these are just as delicious as San Marzanos)!

The resultant sauce—an umami-packed flavor bomb—was standard fare at our family meals in Toledo, usually served over pasta or as a component in other dishes. We always had a stash canned or in the freezer (Tomate Frito preserves really well), so consider making a lot at one time and then storing it for later.


Yield: Around 4 ¼ cups (1 L)


  • 2.2 lbs (1 kg) of fresh tomatoes or canned San Marzano tomatoes
  • ½ cup (125 mL) good Spanish extra virgin olive oil, such as piqual
  • 1 medium yellow union, sliced into thing julienne
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled, destemmed, and sliced thinly
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Granulated sugar, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Make a sofrito: In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil for 4 minutes, until just rippling but not smoking. Add the onions and garlic and season with the salt. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are very soft but have not taken on color.

2. Using a pair of kitchen shears, cut up the tomatoes into rough pieces. (If you are using fresh tomatoes, chop them roughly.)

3. Raise the heat to high. Add the tomatoes and season them to taste with the sugar, salt, and black pepper. Fry the tomatoes in the sofrito for 5 to 10 minutes.

4. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking, stirring frequently, for 30 to 40 minutes, until most of the water has cooked out of the tomatoes. Remove from the heat.

5. Process the mixture through a food mill with a fine screen (if you don’t have one, you can use a chinois or other fine strainer) into a large mixing bowl. If necessary, repeat until the purée is smooth. Taste the sauce as necessary with salt and black pepper.

6. If using the Tomate Frito immediately, transfer it to a large plastic container and set aside to cool to room temperature. Cover and chill the sauce overnight. The Tomate Frito can also be canned in sterilized containers.

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