If you have a sweet Italian Grandma that has an old family recipe for Tomato Sauce then skip this recipe and make one of my Cake recipes instead. Grandma Nonna wouldn't be happy if you messed with family tradition. If you are like the rest of us that think of Ragu as your Italian Granny then this recipe is for you. Tomato Sauce is a basic that is very easy to make and one that can be adapted to your specific tastes. If you love garlic, add more. Don't like garlic, leave it out. Love lots of Mushrooms, add as much as you like. It's your Tomato Sauce and when you make it your own, you are Cooking The Amazing.
Here is the recipe.
3 T Olive Oil
4 T Butter
1 Medium Yellow Onion, diced fine
6 Large Cloves of Garlic, finely minced
3 T Dried Oregano
1 t Dried Thyme
1/2 t Fennel Seeds
2 cans of crushed Tomatoes, 28 oz. each
2 1/2 t Sea Salt
2 t Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1 1/2 c Grated Parmesan Cheese
15 Fresh Basil Leaves
Optional: 1 t Hot Pepper Flakes, 1 c Sauteed Mushrooms, 3 T Capers, 1/2 c Kalamata Olives, chopped, 1 c chopped Sauteed Red Bell Pepper,
Meat Balls, or Cooked Ground Chuck or Italian Sausage.
1. In a large pot place the Olive Oil and Butter over medium heat. Once hot, add the chopped onions and saute for 6-8 minutes until the Onions are soft and translucent then add the garlic and all the dried herbs and Fennel Seeds. Saute for 2 minutes.
2. The best canned Tomatoes are San Marzano Italian Tomatoes. They taste amazing but they cost a lot and are hard to find. (Whole Foods stocks them.) I use them often but I also use a good quality imported Italian canned Tomato that I can get at most markets and the taste is very good. Use crushed canned Tomatoes or whole ones that you crush yourself in the pan. Crushed is just a lot easier. Add the 2 cans of Crushed Tomatoes and stir well. Watch for splattering!
3. Add the Salt and Pepper and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot part way to prevent sauce from flying all over your kitchen.
4. Simmer for 40 mins on low heat then add the Parmesan Cheese and stir in well then simmer for 10 mins more.
5. Add any Options at this stage during the 10 minute simmer above.
6. Add the fresh Basil just before serving. Tear the Basil into pieces so it will not bruise. Taste for seasoning and correct Salt and Pepper if needed at this stage then serve.
7. If you are adding Meat Balls, Italian Sausage or Ground Chuck, allow it to simmer in the sauce partially covered for 2 hours before adding the basil at the last minute before serving.
TIP: Allow the Meat Balls to simmer undisturbed to prevent breaking them up. This long simmer will make them very tender and flavorful. Click HERE for the recipe.
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