Growing up in an Italian household, I have come to consider the most perfect form of comfort food a simple dinner of pasta and a salad. I could literally have some form of pasta as a daily meal without ever getting bored. Of course, homemade pasta is ideal, though not necessary. What is essential however, is homemade sauce–and it’s much easier than you might think.
There are endless types of sauces to suit any palate, the most basic of which is a simple tomato sauce with basil. The ingredients shown here are what you will need to achieve a delicious sauce of your very own in just a few steps.
As I was never handed down a written recipe, but rather learned watching at my parents’ side in the kitchen, this is not a formal recipe. What it is, though, is a starting point–for you to personalize your own homemade tomato sauce, and perfect it as you go!
Yellow Onion and Olive Oil
Select a sweet yellow onion for the best flavor and use only high quality extra virgin olive oil–they are the most aromatic.
In a deep pot, heat about 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat for a few minutes. Then add the onion; I like to cut the onion in half and place the two halves in the oil. I do this because I prefer to have the onion flavor the sauce, rather than have pieces of the onion in the sauce. If you like, you can dice the onion instead. In either case, cook the onion until it softens a bit and becomes somewhat translucent, but not browned.
Whole Peeled Tomatoes
The better the tomatoes, the better your sauce. Obviously, when you have so few ingredients in a recipe, inferior quality in any of them can affect your final product. I only use tomatoes from Italy, and San Marzano are the best tasting. Look for whole peeled tomatoes.
Once the onion has cooked in the olive oil, add one large can of whole peeled tomatoes. Let the tomatoes cook for 5 to 7 minutes to soften a bit, and then take either a potato masher or a pastry dough blender
to break up the tomatoes. Set the burner on low and let the sauce simmer, uncovered. (Though I would suggest a splatter screen.)
At this point, add the fresh basil. I love basil, so I use a small bunch. Be sure to wash the basil well and pat dry, then pick the leaves off, discarding the stems. Alternately, you can finely chop the leaves and add them to the sauce that way.
Salt and Pepper
After about 10 to 15 minutes of simmering taste your tomatoes and add salt and pepper to your liking. Continue to simmer the sauce until the extra liquid evaporates and the sauce thickens. (If your tomatoes are particularly watery, or if you like an extra thick sauce, you may add a small can of tomato paste. Again, go for Italian tomatoes.)
You’ll know when your sauce is ready, but in total it shouldn’t take you more than an hour and fifteen minutes. Let me know how yours turns out and Buon Appetito!