How to Make a Delicious Provençale Sauce
Provençale sauce is basically a tomato based sauce with a few extra ingredients to give it an incredible fragrance and is great served with meats, chicken and seafood. There are lots of variations to this sauce but I suggest you come up with your own version using your favorite available fresh ingredients.
A Little History
Provencale sauce comes from Provence, France as the name suggests but tomatoes didn't arrive until the end of the 1700s so early versions of this sauce didn't include them. This "New World" food, the tomato, is now an important part of cooking in Provence but was not when the French city of Marseilles was founded by Greek colonists back in 600 BC.
Most of the recipes for this sauce you find in cookbooks include some combination of tomatoes, garlic, shallot or onion, butter or olive oil, and a dry white wine. Don't be surprised if you also find recipes include lemon zest, capers, olives or mushrooms.
I suppose if you were in a hurry, you could start with one of your favorite commercial brand tomato sauce and doctor it up with some black olives, capers, mixed herbs and a little white wine. I would have no problem with this time saving technique but if fresh tomatoes are available, try to make this from scratch.
Tomato Conversion Chart
Some recipe you'll find with call for fresh tomatoes while other recipes will have canned and this can get confusing. For example this recipe requires 2 pounds of fresh tomatoes but what if tomatoes are out of season or you want to use canned?
If you check out my tomato conversion chart, you'll see one 35 ounce can of tomatoes equals 4 cups of tomatoes. You'll also see 2 cups of chopped tomatoes equals 1 pound so a 35 ounce can should yield approximately 2 pounds of fresh tomatoes.
Provencale Sauce Recipe
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 yellow onion finely chopped
- salt & pepper
- 2 pounds fresh tomatoes or 1 - 35-ounce can plum tomatoes, drained, chopped
- 2 cups white wine
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1 cup cured black olives pitted and coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon capers drained
- ½ cup fresh herbs including basil parsley and thyme, roughly chopped
- Heat a medium sized saucepan over medium heat.
- When hot, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, then the chopped onion. Season with a little salt and pepper.
- Cook the onions for about 6 minutes until they begin to soften but don't let them brown. Be sure to stir often so they don't burn.
- Add the tomatoes, cover the pan and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes to let the tomatoes release their juices. Again, don't forget to stir to help things along.
- Add the wine and simmer the tomatoes uncovered on medium-low to medium heat for about 50 minutes or until the sauce gets thick and there is very little liquid left.
- Using a blender, food processor or food mill, whatever you have available in your kitchen, carefully puree the sauce and reserve. Clean and dry the saucepan to cook the garlic, capers and olives.
- Heat the saucepan over medium-low heat and when hot, add the ¼ cup of olive oil.
- Add the chopped garlic and saute for about 5 minutes until golden but don't let the garlic burn.
- Add the capers and chopped olives and cook for 5 more minutes.
- Transfer the cooked tomato sauce back to the saucepan and stir in the fresh herbs. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.
- The sauce is ready to be served over chicken, fish, meat or pasta. If you don't use it all up, freeze some for a later meal. Great to have this sauce on-hand.