This is a recipe for something called Cuban Sauce, created by my father Giorgio who is an amazing cook. He has a knack for coming up with these all-purpose workhorse recipes that are simple, taste delicious, and can be used in a variety of ways. Kind of like the food version of a Swiss army knife. This particular one was inspired by a meal he had in a local restaurant while on a trip to Cuba years ago. It’s a great, all purpose sauce and topping. Use it on pasta, serve it with olives and cheese and fresh bread as an appetizer, or put it on toasted slices of bread to make a nice bruschetta. I like to use it to top off food that is super healthy but can benefit from a flavour kick – like grilled chicken breast, or poached fish. The sauce is low fat and very tasty. It freezes well and is quick to make. Basically, it can do anything. They should really teach kids about this in grade school.
So here are the step by step instructions from Giorgio. And he is throwing in his secret garlic sautéing technique as an added bonus for LOE readers. Kind of like a gift with purchase.
It’s a simple recipe. Here are all your ingredients – tomatoes, garlic, capers, salt, and lemon. And olive oil of course!
Sauté the garlic in the olive oil.
Now here’s Giorgio’s secret garlic trick. Tilt the pan so that the oil pools in one end, and cook the garlic gently in the oil. This way you get soft, buttery garlic that is cooked uniformly throughout, without any over-cooked, brown bits.
To keep the pan tilted, Giorgio supports the handle on a handy bottle of olive oil like any good Italian would.
This is what the garlic looks like when it’s just about done.
Mash the garlic with a fork.
Chop up the capers.
Add the tomatoes and capers to the garlic. Here we used home preserved tomatoes, but you can use fresh ripe tomatoes that are chopped, peeled and seeded.
Mash it up with a fork.
Add lemon and pepper.
And voilà – all purpose, super-healthy, multi-tasking, easy and tasty Cuban sauce as prepared by Giorgio. We’ll see if we can convince him to share his tomato-canning and garlic growing secrets next.
Giorgio’s Cuban Sauce
1 cup ripe fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp salted capers, rinsed
11 large cloves of garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
Ground chili peppers if desired
Sauté the garlic in the olive oil over medium low heat until it’s golden and soft, about 15 minutes. Turn the garlic cloves so that they cook evenly. Discard olive oil once the garlic is cooked (optional). Mash garlic with a fork. Chop capers and add to garlic along with tomatoes. Mash together with a fork. Add lemon, pepper and a sprinkle of salt. Add ground chilis if you like a kick.