Some food combinations are wonderful but others can have you scratching your head. For instance, last week, I picked up some coconut milk cheese at my local deli. I like coconut and I like cheese, so I figured the combo would be delicious. Nope. It was like a bottle of suntan lotion spilled onto my cheese. Not appetizing in the least.
Tomato and orange, on the other hand? Now that’s a winning combo.
I’ve been making a version of this tomato sauce for nearly 15 years. It’s my go-to sauce and I’m actually a bit shocked that I’ve never shared it here. It’s simple and charming and you’ll wonder when you finish your plate how you could have lived your life without it. It’s one of those sauces.
The very first time I made this tomato sauce it was way more complicated than it needed to be. Vodka and cream was involved, and back when I was a poor student, these 2 ingredients were way outside of my budget. But I hung onto this sauce and discovered that getting rid of those pricey ingredients actually made the sauce much more interesting and way more accessible.
I used fire-roasted tomatoes this time ’round, but regular tomatoes work just as well. Come summer, use diced fresh tomatoes and it becomes even more brilliant. If you left out the orange juice, you’d get a nice little tomato sauce. But it’s the orange juice that makes this dish really special. Just be sure to use a good pungent orange, not one of those watery, tasteless ones. Quality ingredients matter when you’ve got such a simple sauce.
It’s a quick sauce too. Get your onions and garlic sautéing and then get your water on for your pasta. Dinner will be ready before you know it. And don’t forget to sprinkle on some cheese!
elsewhere: Over at Poppytalk this week (and just in time for a sunny weekend), I give a recipe for perhaps the best pancakes ever. You be the judge.
And if you are in Vancouver, on May 6th is another installment of Vancouver’s best craft fair, Got Craft? I’ll be there selling my cards, birthday calendars & prints and you can also purchase a uber cute Got Craft tote bag that I designed for the event! Pick up a copy of the local free mag The Westender and check out an interview I did about Got Craft (or you can read it online here). Of course, please stop by Sunday May 6th and say hi! I love meeting my readers!!
my favorite tomato sauce (with onions & orange)
A more intense orange flavour can be reached by adding some zest into the sauce. Play around!
1 T olive oil
1/2 onion, sliced thin
5 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 t dried oregano (or herbs du provence)
1 t aleppo pepper (or 1/4 t red chili pepper flakes)
pinch of kosher salt
1 T butter
1 14oz can of diced tomatoes (fire-roasted tomatoes are an excellent option)
juice of 1 orange
In a medium-sized saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add in onion and garlic and let saute until soft and fragrant, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Toss in dried herbs, pepper, salt and butter along with the can of diced tomatoes. Let sauce simmer and reduce slightly, about 10-15 minutes, turning down the heat if necessary. Squeeze in fresh orange juice, stir and let simmer another 3 minutes. Serve over your favorite pasta.
Interesting tip! I shall try this out.
I’ve never thought about doing oranges and tomatoes together! I’ll have to try this.
Tomato and orange–hmm, interesting. Elephant’s Deli in Portland has a tomato orange soup I heard of years ago, but never tried. Maybe it’s time for some experimentation!
Go for it, Miss K 🙂
Jessica, it’s delicious! Give it a try and let me know what you think.
Eileen, whoa…that recipe sounds amazing. Bookmarking!!
what an interesting mix of flavours, this sauce must be amazing!
I think I’m going to try it tomorrow for lunch with some linguini….
You are so right with the tomato/orange combo; I always use orange juice when I make tomato soup. Now I will try the same for tomato sauce. Thanks for the inspiration.
just as long as you don’t add orange pieces to the sauce. one of the grossest cafeteria meals i ever ate was pasta…with oranges.
I’ve never in my life thought to pair tomatoes with oranges but now I’m really intrigued since this is your go-to sauce. Better get to trying it while oranges are still somewhat seasonal!
I wanna make this sauce, like, right now!
I have a philosophical question though. I want to take out the butter and I wanna know what you think : is the butter playing a big part in why you love this sauce so much?
I try not to cook with butter, but I might bend my own rule for this sauce…
This year I made my first shrimp diablo, which calls for tomatoes, chiles and fresh grapefruit juice. The combination is delicious. Unfortunately, tomatoes and grapefruit live in opposite seasons, as do tomatoes and oranges, so I make it with canned tomatoes as you have done here.
I am so intrigued by the addition of orange in this sauce! I would never have thought to combine tomatoes and orange together, not in a million years!
Miss Migas, enjoy!
Good to know that I’m not alone in my love for tomato & orange together, Donna!
Hmmm, Julia, that does sound a bit odd!
Joanne, it’s such a good combo, let me know if you try it out!
Sophie, you can leave out the butter, but I do think it gives a certain richness that olive oil alone doesn’t provide. It will still be good without it, so try it out and let me know what you think!
Wow, Sharyn, that sounds amazing!! I’ll have to try that combo.
Amanda, it’s a good one!
Ok, I’m intrigued by the tomato… I usually add a little cinnamon and vermouth to my sauce. I’ll have to try the orange.
This is fantastic, here on the farmy where we grow all our own food i make MASSES of tomato sauce and never ever thought of adding orange, I shall! Thank you.. c
This sounds incredible! I never thought to mix orange juice in my tomato sauce, but now I must try it. I’m also bookmarking those delicious pancakes, yum.
I was unsure about omitting the butter, but since you encouraged me to do so, I did. It turned out fantastic. I didn’t miss the butter and I just can’t find the words to describe the addictive taste of this sauce. After reading Linda’s comment, I also added cinnamon. I love this sauce! And I looove your blog!
Linda, I love cinnamon in tomato sauce. I’ll have to try it in this version. And vermouth!!! Yum.
ooooh, sounds so good, Cecilia! I love the idea of making a bunch of sauce from your own tomatoes. One day!
Thanks Nicole, it’s a great combo – and those pancakes are pretty fantastic too 🙂
Sophie, so glad you enjoyed the sauce! And yes to cinnamon too! And thanks for the nice blog comments *blushing*!!
mmm, this pasta dish sounds really good!!! I’m going to have to give it a whirl on Friday after swim class when I allow myself to indulge in some carbs 🙂
Have to admit, I have never heard of tomato and orange, nor would I have thought it would work as a pasta sauce. I guess in a way, it wouldn’t be much different from adding sugar to a tomato sauce ( I have done that). I will have to try for myself….thanks for sharing. You learn something new everyday.
Rozanne Gold (of 1-2-3 cookbook fame) published a Tomato-Orange Gazpacho recipe years ago that has become my favorite for ease of preparation and taste – a winning combination.
28 ounces whole tomatoes in puree
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves, rough chopped
1 to 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
salt & black pepper
Place tomatoes, tomato puree and orange juice in bowl of a food processor and process until very smooth. Add 1 tablespoon tarragon leaves, black pepper and grated ginger and process again until smooth. Taste and correct seasoning, add salt if required.
Chill several hours or overnight, serve cold in a chilled flat soup plate. Garnish with the remaining tarragon.
Bijoux, don’t ignore the carbs!! Swim them away 🙂
Hag, it’s a really good combo together. Learning is enjoying, or something like that!
LS, thanks for the recipe, I’ll have to give it a go come summer – once I get over the queasy feeling of gazpacho (I’m scared!).
You should always stir the pasta with the sauce! Never just put the ingredient on top.
Daniela, thanks for telling me how to eat my food.
My partner ( Italian, of course) made this delicious tomato sauce with shaved fennel AMD blood orange. It was divine and very refreshing for homey pasta.