Monday, June 29, 2009

Mom's Tomato Sauce....the last sauce you'll ever need

Time to share my mother's sauce recipe! This is my every day go-to sauce. Thanks to mom for giving me permission to share her recipe. I use this sauce for pasta and pizza, and anything else.

The ingredient list is simple: olive oil, onion, garlic, dried basil, tomato puree. The most important thing is purchasing the correct tomato puree. Most tomato purees are actually tomato paste and water. Not good. Make sure you read the label, and the ingredient list says tomatoes, not concentrate. OR, just buy what I do : Pastene brand tomato puree. Be sure not to mistakenly get tomato sauce, or "kitchen-ready" ground tomatoes. You want puree.

Take out your big pot.

Pour in enough olive oil to make a thin coating on the bottom of the pan ( a TBS or two).

Finely chop a medium onion, put in pot, add a big pinch of salt. Cook over medium heat stirring occasionally until the onions are translucent. Do not brown/caramelize the onions, if they start to brown, drop the heat.

Add two fat garlic cloves, minced finely. More or less depending on how into garlic you are.
Add a palmful of dried basil. I know, your palm is different than my palm, but it is probably close to about 1 1/2 TBS to 2 TBS. This isn't science, this is jazz, deal with it.

Stir basil and garlic around in the cooked onions until fragrant. You add the basil now because it is fat-soluble, and you want it to mix around in the oil to release all of the flavors.

Lower the heat so you don't get too many splatters of tomato puree and then pour in a 28 ounce can of tomato puree. Rinse out can with water, and pour in about a half a can of water/rinsed tomato puree.

Bring sauce to a simmer, and allow to simmer, uncovered, over very low heat for about 20-30 minutes, until the consistency is that of sauce. Stir occasionally during simmering.

Pause to enjoy how insanely awesome your house smells.

Use sauce immediately, or let cool and put into small containers. Will keep about a week in the fridge, and it freezes brilliantly. I like to put all of it in the freezer in 1/2 cup containers, so I can take out as much or as little as I need. You'll get a generous 3 and 1/2 cups of sauce from this recipe.

This sauce is good for pasta as well pizza, and pretty much any other application that calls for a simple, classic tomato sauce. In addition to being so versatile, it is also easily replicable. A couple years ago I was the dinner guest of my friend Kathy. Unbeknownst to me, my mother had given Kathy her sauce recipe back when Kathy and my sister were roommates. I sat down to a spaghetti dinner, and could have sworn it was my mother's sauce...just a little different. Kathy let me know that it WAS my mother's sauce, but with a little basil pesto stirred into it before saucing the pasta. A truly excellent idea, Kathy.

If you will be using the sauce for pasta, use as is. If you are putting it on pizza, sprinkle on a little dried oregano. Swirl in olive tapenade or pesto for an extra fun sauce for either pizza or pasta. Sprinkle in a little red pepper flake to make it spicy for pizza or pasta. Use the sauce for baked pasta dishes too. Keep small containers of it in the freezer and heat up in the microwave to dip crusty bread into for a late night snack. The options are endless.

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