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Cooking School: Getting saucy with the five ‘mother sauces’

This sauce is made by cooking down tomatoes.

Executive chef Adam Swedberg starts by sauteing onions and garlic in olive oil, then adding tomatoes and letting the mixture simmer on low for 40 minutes before blending it in a food processor.

His twist: adding fresh basil to the mix.

His tangy sauce can be used for pasta, on grilled chicken, even turned into a soup.

Tomato is one of the five mother sauces, organized in the early 1800s by Marie Antoine-Carene and added onto by Auguste Escoffier. They’re part of the foundation of French cooking. Many chefs have them committed to memory. Home cooks could use the techniques to add flavor and elevate entrees.

Tomato Sauce with Basil

From Adam Swedberg, executive banquet chef at the Historic Davenport Hotel in Spokane

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 pound fresh basil

2 pounds ripe tomatoes diced, peeled, and seeded (reserve juice)

Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil for 3 minutes. Add basil, tomatoes and reserved juice from tomatoes. Simmer on low for 40 minutes. Pulse with food processor or emersion blender. Add water or stock to thin out if needed. Add salt and pepper, as desired.

Notes: To make a tomato-basil bisque, add milk and cream, and puree. For puttanesca sauce, replace basil with oregano and add capers, and black olives.

Stay tuned: The second installment will feature bechamel sauce.

Video: Watch executive chef Adam Swedberg make tomato sauce online at

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