Tomato Sauce

So – you might be thinking, why a food blog? Well, I’ve thought about it for awhile now. No, I didn’t go to culinary school or become trained in any way. I still have a lot to learn and several skills to improve, but one thing alone has pushed me in this direction the past couple years: I love to cook. Not only that, but sharing what I’ve cooked inspires me to go further. Challenging myself to learn more, attempt new recipes, and be more creative. The decision was fairly easy after considering that!

The first recipe I want to share is essentially the first thing I learned to cook. I probably learned to make tomato sauce at around age 8. Everything I learned after that has built upon this recipe or a version of it.

Whatever you call it, (sauce, gravy, pasta sauce) tomato sauce to me means its Sunday. Maybe you woke up to the smell of bacon on a Sunday morning–but what got me out of bed throughout my childhood was that irresistible smell of garlic being sautéed in olive oil. In my opinion, nothing smells better. As my nearly 101-year-old grandpa told me once, it’s the Italian flower.

Tomato sauce is also a great place to start because of how versatile it is. What starts as “pasta” sauce easily gets used for pizza or eggplant parmigiana or further becomes the base for an a la vodka sauce, chili, or even – BBQ sauce. Tomato sauce is actually one of the five “Mother Sauces” – which sounds super intense, but just means that it starts as a foundation and influences hundreds of other recipes.

I’m going to leave this recipe fairly similar to the way I learned it from my mom. Which also means that its similar to the way she learned it from her mom – and so on. I’m sure the recipe has changed a little from when my great grandparents would make it back in Italy – between preference and resources. Tomato sauce is so simple – yet no two recipes are alike. Butter or olive oil? Boxed or canned tomatoes? Tomato paste? Red wine? Chunky or smooth? Soffritto (onion/carrot/celery)? Fresh or dried herbs? 30 minutes or a day long simmer? What it really comes down to is your own personal taste.

Preferably, I love when the sauce is right in between smooth and chunky and can be used for any pasta shape. Also, just a hint of onion, red wine, and of course, basil. I’ve also discovered that making sauce from fresh tomatoes is out of this world delicious and well worth the 2 pounds of tomatoes & 8 hours invested in it.

Anyway – this recipe is fairly minimal. It starts with that awesome smell of minced garlic being sautéed in olive oil. Next, adding in some finely chopped onion to help amp up the flavor. Larger cut onions will give you a chunkier texture – which I personally don’t like. Add in the dry seasonings (dry herbs need to be “reactivated” to release their aromas and spice), I like to do this now for just a minute.

Next – and this is something I experimented with on my own – add in red wine. Typically dry Italian reds, like a chianti, will taste better. Go figure, Italian wine for an Italian dish. Alcohol helps tomatoes release a deeper flavor that wouldn’t otherwise be released without it!

Next, mix in the tomato paste, cans of tomatoes, 1 cup of water, and remaining dry seasonings. Mix it all together and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and let it go for about an hour – stir occasionally. After an hour, add in the fresh herbs, uncover, and let it simmer for about another hour or until the consistency has thickened. Use for pasta, pizza, chicken parmigiana, lasagna….you get it. Buon Appetito!😊

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Tomato Sauce

2 hours

Servings 12

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves minced
  • ½ yellow onion minced
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary make sure pieces are small
  • ½ tbsp dried parsley
  • ½ tbsp. dried basil
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup red wine
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 20 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 20 ounce can pureed tomato sauce
  • Small bunch of fresh basil chopped

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a stock pot on medium heat, add in garlic. Saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add in onion, saute for a couple minutes. Add in dry seasoning – saute only until fragrant, be careful this browns quickly. 

  2. Add red wine. Let simmer for 5 minutes, it will reduce by about half. Add in tomato paste and let this sort of melt into the wine fully – then add in the cans of sauce. Add one cup of water and mix all together. 

  3. Bring to a boil for about 5 minutes and then cover and reduce to a simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally. After an hour, uncover, add in fresh basil and stir. Let simmer for another hour or until the consistency has thickened. (If sauce becomes too thick add in more water).



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