Italy isn’t the only country with spectacular tomato sauces. In Croatia, they are known as Šalša or Paradajz Sos. This particular one comes from the Dalmatian coast and is a created by simmering together tomatoes, plenty of garlic, onion, butter, parsley, and a little sugar. As I was searching through recipes, I found a few different ways to make this light and refreshing summer sauce. Others also include carrots, peppers, celery, or different herbs such as mint or basil. The addition of onion is also optional. It is best made in-season when tomatoes are at their freshest and most flavorful. They should be deep red, fleshy, and slightly soft.
I served the sauce with pasta, but it can also be paired with rice, meat, or fries.
If you want a smoother sauce, use a potato masher or even an immersion blender towards the end of cooking. Adjust the seasonings based on the sweetness of the tomatoes. I added about a tablespoon of sugar- more or less may be needed.
This Šalša can easily be frozen as a way to preserve your garden tomatoes.
Šalša (Croatian Tomato Sauce)
Adapted from Balkan Lunch Box
4 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large onion, peeled and finely diced
5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with cold water and place nearby. Cut a small “x” into the bottom of each of the tomatoes and gently add them to the water. Cook for 2 minutes, then drain and place the tomatoes in the cold water. Once they are able to be handled, peel off the skins and squeeze each tomato into a large bowl.
In a large pot, place the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned. Stir in the tomatoes and garlic. Season with sugar, salt, and pepper. Once bubbling, reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down into a sauce, 45 minutes to 1 hour. If desired, use a potato masher to create a smoother sauce. Season to taste and stir in the parsley.
Serve warm with pasta, rice, or fries.