When I was growing up, it never failed that I would wear a white shirt on the day that my mother was preparing pasta with tomato sauce for dinner.
Needless to say I ruined many a white shirt throughout my childhood years.
There's something special about homemade tomato sauce. But, then again, I suppose my youth was spoiled by homemade everything. Since moving out on my own, I have tried a handful of jarred sauces. Most of which I would never buy again. A couple have proved worthy enough to suffice - in a pinch - particularly if it were being used for a baked dish like eggplant parm or lasagna.
Under normal circumstances though, I much prefer to make my own. I can't say that I make it exactly like my mother always did though...
In fact, her tomato sauce making process definitely evolved over the years. When I was really young, tomato sauce was left almost entirely to the crock pot. My mom would sauté the onions and garlic in butter, because we were a family that had yet to discover olive oil. Sometimes she would pull out those glass mason jars from the pantry - filled to the brim with juicy red tomatoes that had been harvested and processed from our bountiful summer garden. Everything would get tossed in the pot, simmer away all day while she was at work and get super thick. When my sister and I got home from school we would sneak spoonfuls, to "test" of course, usually burning our tongues in the process. There would always be homemade meatballs or sausage and a huge loaf of crusty italian bread to go along side.
Well rest assured those gluten-filled days are over.
You could certainly use fresh or jarred tomatoes for this sauce. I use canned - although there is a rather large bag of farmer's market tomatoes in my freezer right now that needs to find a purpose in life...
This recipe is easily adjusted based on your tastes, needs, or whatever you happen to have on hand. You can customize based on how thick or thin you like your sauce, or even how spicy or sweet. Use fresh herbs instead of dry (although, I personally believe the fresh basil is a must), experiment with different types or textures of tomatoes - have it any way you like and make it your own!
Olive oil, shallots, garlic, tomatoes, fresh basil - simple, easy ingredients that come together to create something deliciously memorable. This is the stuff that childhood memories are made of. My husband's grandmother - the woman who's Italian tomato sauce brings family members from near and far every holiday season, talking nonstop about her legendary lasagna - might not approve of my version. But she's never had it, so we'll keep that between us for now.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Yield: 7-8 cups
- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 2 large Shallots, finely diced (or 1 small Onion)
- 3 cloves Garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp Gourmet Garden Italian Herbs Paste (could also use 1 Tbsp Basil Pesto or 1/2 tsp each of the following dry herbs: Basil, Parsley, Oregano, Thyme)
- 1/3 cup Sherry or Wine
- 14-oz can Tomato Sauce
- 14-oz can Diced Tomatoes
- 28-oz can Crushed Tomatoes in Puree
- 3/4 oz Fresh Basil, chopped
- 1 Tbsp Sugar, or to taste
- Pinch of Crushed Red Pepper Flakes, optional
- Salt & Pepper, to taste
- In a large sauce pot, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Sauté shallots until golden and slightly translucent - about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and herb blend and sauté until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Pour sherry into pot and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes, or until mostly reduced; occasionally scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon until all the browned bits have been loosened.
- Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and crushed tomatoes. Stir to combine. *Feel free to adjust these ingredients based on how chunky or smooth you like your sauce. For a smoother sauce, use two cans of sauce and nix the diced. For a chunkier sauce, use two cans of diced and nix the sauce. For something in between, use two 28-oz cans of crushed tomatoes.*
- Turn up the heat to medium-high and allow the sauce to come to a slow boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and allow sauce to simmer for 25-30 minutes. If you are going to add the red pepper flakes, do so now. *I put the lid on during this stage because I like a looser sauce. If you want it to cook down some, keep the lid off while your sauce is simmering.*
- To Finish: Depending on the sweetness of your tomatoes, add up to 1 Tbsp of sugar to sweeten. Add salt and pepper to taste. Finely slice or chop 3/4 oz of fresh basil leaves and stir into sauce - I like a lot of basil, feel free to use less if that is your preference. Remove pot from heat, allowing for carryover simmering, this will help the flavors just added to combine.
- Serve with your favorite gluten-free pasta or use for any other favorite Italian dish! P.S. This makes an awesome chicken parm - I'm sure that recipe will make it's way in here eventually...
Happy gluten-free cooking!