As easy as it gets...

We have recently realized that more and more people we meet are amazed that we make our own spaghetti sauce. Really, it is not hard, consumes little time, and is SUCH a vast improvement over the jarred variety (plus, it doesn't contain high quantities of yucky things like preservatives and high fructose corn syrup). Make a large batch and freeze it in individual servings for quick and easy re-serving with pasta, meats, etc. You will be surprised at how impressive this simple item is to others!
LG & fls

Basic Red Sauce, a la Farrell

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped (I prefer Vadalia if they are available)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
Kosher salt
Ground black pepper
2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes (preferred brand: Red Pack)
½ cup tomato paste
5 fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
2 dried bay leaves (I sometimes omit this depending on my taste)
4 tablespoons butter (unsalted)

Heat oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft -- usually about 2 minutes. Add carrots and season with Kosher salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are tender, usually about 4-6 minutes. Add tomatoes, basil, and bay leaves and simmer covered on low heat for 1 hour or until thick. Remove bay leaves and check for seasoning. If sauce still “needs” something, add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time to taste.

Add half the tomato sauce into the bowl of a food processor. Process until sauce is smooth. Continue same process with the remaining sauce. Stir in ½ cup of tomato paste to thicken.

Return sauce to pot to keep warm until serving time.

The sauce freezes very well. Let it cool all the way, and the portion into large Ziploc bags (I prefer these to Tupperware, as I HATE when red sauce stains Tupperware.). It freezes for up to 8 months successfully.

I frequently like my sauce a little spicy – if you do, too, give your jar of red pepper flakes 2-3 shakes over the pot after the food processing step.


REALLY Basic Red Sauce, a la Lauren

My recipe is very similar to Farrell’s, but a bit more slapdash- the meal I turn to when I am too broke to go out and too lazy to cook. Basically, it will get you by in a pinch.

2 (32-ounze) cans crushed tomatoes (preferred brand: San Marzano)
1-2 cups mushrooms (regular or portabello)

1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Dried basil to taste

1 dried bay leaf

Combine crushed tomatoes, basil and bay leaf in crock pot.

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil (ideally the onion should be transluscent, but sometimes the garlic will burn if you saute it for too long- better to have undercooked onion than burned garlic.) Add onion and garlic to crock pot.

Saute mushrooms until tender. I usually use a lot of mushrooms, as they are filling, but this is really a matter of taste. Add mushrooms to crock pot.

You are done! Let the sauce heat for at least two hours. Serve over pasta with lots of cheese. My mother always left the bay leaf in the sauce, and said it was a sign of good luck for anyone who found it. (This sauce can also be frozen- see Farrell's directions above.)

In my opinion, one of the great things about a basic red sauce is that it is a great way to sneak in your vegetables for the day. Farrell mentions carrots and I mention mushrooms, but you can also add celery, peppers, etc. I have even added spinach and used the sauce for homemade pizzas on a baguette, or to add some interest to a chicken breast. So use your imagination and have fun!

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