Tomato sauce should be simple, made naturally, and with no more than just the basics.
That’s what I’ve learned over the years from my Mother and Aunts when it comes to making traditional family ‘sugo.’ At a young age, I began watching over their shoulders – typically holding a piece of home-made bread, ready for dipping – learning the fundamentals and techniques of making my family’s authentic tomato sauce – pure flavors like garlic and basil that crown the intense flavor of the tomato, the star of the show. Cooking slowly for hours allows these flavors to marry intimately, reducing the acid and amplifying the sweet tang of the ‘pomodoro.’ I share with you not so much my recipe for sauce, but a timeless tradition that brings the entire family into the kitchen – the taste and aroma of a traditional tomato sauce is just that powerful.
I know what you’re thinking, “I have to wait several hours for the sauce?!?”
Yes, yes you do. One of the keys to great tasting sauce is cooking down the tomato slowly over low heat – this allows the combination of simple flavors to work with, but not overshadow, the robust tomato flavor. It also gives you time to enjoy those around you – sipping wine, eating cheese and fruit – talking, laughing, and waiting together for the sauce to be just right.
Sughetto di Pomodoro (Tomato Sauce)
3 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Large Garlic Clove, minced
1 28 oz. can of Crushed Tomatoes with Basil
1 28 oz. can of Peeled Plum-shaped Tomatoes in Tomato Juice
1 tsp. Sugar
1 tsp. Fine Sicilian Salt
¼ tsp. Freshly Ground Black Pepper
¼ cup White Wine (I prefer Pinot Grigio, but who doesn’t?)
½ cup water
4 medium Fresh Basil Leaves
Begin by reserving the tomato juice from the can of peeled plum-shaped tomatoes and save in a bowl. Using a food processor, puree the plum tomatoes until smooth. In a large sauce pot, heat 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over medium and add minced garlic. Sauté for a few minutes, being very careful to not burn or overcook the garlic (just enough time for it to sweat). Add the tomato juice, and heat for a minute or two before adding the crushed tomatoes and pureed stewed tomatoes. Continue heating over medium while adding the sugar, salt, pepper, wine, and water. Stir occasionally until near boil and reduce to low. Add the basil leaves (whole or rip into large pieces). Simmer, on low heat, stirring occasionally, for 2 ½ to 3 hours.
Serve with your favorite pasta and BUON APETITO~!