Sunday, January 8, 2012

Quick and Easy Homemade Tomato Sauce

It's Sunday! Most people become Italian on Sunday and eat pasta.  I do.

I remember my mom starting her sauce (some call it gravy) early on Sunday mornings. Into her big sauce pot she would toss lots and lots of minced garlic,  onions, oregano, parsley, basil, a few cans of whole tomatoes, tomato puree and some lamb shanks for flavor. She would fry up homemade balls (made from a mixture of beef, pork, eggs and breadcrumbs) and add those to sauce about halfway through cooking. Her sauce was an all day affair. The house smelled amazing.

Honestly, who has time for all that now? I know, I don't. My mom doesn't even do it that way anymore. Most of the time, she opens a few jars of sauce and just pours it over ziti.  My Italian grandmother is certainly rolling over in her grave over it.  When mom does make a homemade sauce, it's usually marinara sauce. Without meat. On special occasions, she might make meatballs to go along with it. And she always sets aside a cup or two of plain sauce before she tosses the meatballs into the pot. For me. The only vegetarian in the family.

If you come to my house for Sunday dinner, don't expect meat in my sauce. Or real meatballs. Sometimes, I will toss in veggie meatballs. Once they're covered in sauce, you can't really tell they are not made from meat. What you will get is a hearty marinara sauce laced with lots of garlic (cut with a razor blade) and plenty of fresh herbs and spices. Never, ever sauce from a jar. 

It's more ecomonical to make your own sauce. For the cost of one or two jars, you can make a huge pot of homemade tomato sauce. Freeze the rest to use through the week. Or for the following Sunday pasta dinner. You never have to worry about running out to the store to buy sauce. Just reach into the freezer. Gotta love that.

My usual homemade tomato sauce takes awhile to cook. I let it simmer on the stove for hours. I realize most people just don't have time for that. So I would like to share with you a very quick, very easy, homemade tomato sauce. It's delicious.

2-3 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves of garlic- mashed, minced or sliced very thin.
2 teaspoons dried oregano
4 14-oz cans of Muir Glenn Fire Roasted tomatoes
 sea salt to taste (about a teaspoon)
freshly ground pepper
a small handful of raisins- optional. I usually toss a few raisins in my sauce for natural sweetness and to balance the acidity of the tomatoes- especially if I am using tomatoes from a can.

1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy saucepan. In it, stir-fry the garlic and oregano until the garlic is turning golden. Stir constantly so it doesn't stick.

2.  Pour the tomatoes into the saucepan and mash them up with a wooden spoon to mix them with the garlic and oil, and to break them up a bit. Don't mash them too much, since lumps of tomatoes are good in this sauce.

3.  Grind in lots of fresh black pepper and mix in the salt. You can add the raisins, if desired.

4.  Heat the sauce, stirring constantly until it's hot.  This will only take about 5 minutes.  If it's too juicy, cook a bit longer to evaporate some of the sauce.  Never put a lid on this sauce.

Pour over pasta and enjoy! Freeze the rest for another day!


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