While it is simple enough to buy a jar of tomato sauce, it will never compare to a batch of homemade, fresh sauce. This easy, no-fuss recipe will make tomato sauce seem like a breeze, and your family will devour it by the spoonful even once their pasta is gone.
Ingredients for 6-8 servings:
Mince or dice up one or two cloves fresh garlic depending on how much you like garlic. You may notice a little stem inside each clove that can be easily separated. It adds no flavor and is believed by some to be responsible for causing garlic breath, so you may want to remove it. If it appears green in color, your garlic is on the older side. Though it is fine to use, it will have less and less flavor as it ages.
If you’re using whole peeled tomatoes for a chunkier sauce, you should pour the can into a large, sturdy bowl and crush the tomatoes up with your hands. If you are using puree or pre-crushed tomatoes, you don’t have to worry about this step!
Chop up the basil into pieces just smaller than one half-inch.
Using a large-size saucepan, pour just enough extra virgin olive oil into the pot to coat the bottom surface. Though you can use lower grades of olive oil, extra virgin comes from the first press of the olives and has the purest flavor. It is processed without chemical treatment and is not “watered down” with refined or lower-grade oils. Immediately add the minced garlic and follow with a couple spoonfuls of tomato paste. Let it sizzle on a low simmer for about a minute. You don’t want to let the garlic turn brown, or else the sauce will taste bitter.
Add the tomato puree or crushed tomatoes. If you use puree, your sauce will be very smooth. If you use whole or crushed tomatoes, it will have a thicker, chunky texture. You can now bring the sauce to a medium-low heat. Add in the chopped basil, and pour a little bit of red wine in. Less than half a cup will do the trick, and really any type of wine should be fine. Dry is the best for cooking, but if you use a sweeter wine, it just means you should add less honey in the end.
Finally add salt and pepper to taste, and a bit of honey if you think it could stand to be sweeter. You can let it sit on a low simmer for 45 minutes up to a few hours. You should cover the sauce so it doesn’t splash while simmering, but leave the cover slightly ajar so the sauce will release steam and thicken in the process.
Tips, tricks and variations
If you are pressed for time, skip the wine as it will need to reduce for at least 45 minutes. It adds a lot of flavor, and it’s a great option if you can put together your sauce in the afternoon and let it simmer for a while. If that’s not possible, don’t worry. It will still be delicious without it.
This sauce tastes absolutely delicious with Italian sausage and/or homemade meatballs, so feel free to add those, once cooked, to the pot while you cook your pasta in a separate pot to “al dente,” which means on the firmer side. Once you try this recipe, you’ll never enjoy jarred tomato sauce quite as much!