Every August my parents invest an entire day to crushing and jarring fresh tomatoes to use for sauce throughout the year. It’s a time-consuming and labored process, but it couldn’t be more worth it. There are few things in the world that make the world melt away than slurping up some hot fresh chunks of Mom’s tomato sauce. My parents are happy to send me off with a jar when I visit, but I usually (lovingly) try and sneak an extra jar or two from their storage cabinet. I am certain that there is no bank robber or jewel thief in the world that feels the exuberance I feel when I get away with this! This sauce is that good.
If you do not have access to fresh crushed tomatoes, you can use your go-to brand-name canned crushed tomatoes instead… which I may have to do now that my parents will have read that I’ve been swiping their jars…
The process is simple and you may already have most of the ingredients in your pantry, but it requires making a large batch and about a 45-minute simmering period, so all of the flavors can marry, and make sure to taste as you go. This recipe is how our family enjoys it, but feel free to add a little more or less of anything listed below. The good thing is you will have plenty left over to either use throughout the week, or freeze for any recipe that calls for tomato sauce later on.
For the wine: When choosing the wine for your sauce, pick a wine you like to drink. If you like to drink it on its own, you'll like the flavor it adds to the sauce. For this sauce, a sweeter, fruiter wine is best, like a chianti or light cabernet.
For the tomato paste: If you're using store-bought crushed tomatoes, use less tomato paste. Store-bought crushed tomatoes have less water and therefore are already pretty thick. Add slowly until you start to see the consistancy you like. If you're using fresh crushed tomatoes you'll need the above amount, and possibly more if you'd like a thicker sauce.
Add the oil to the pot and heat on a low flame. And your garlic and onion and continue to cook over low heat. Let it simmer until the ingredients are translucent (about 7 minutes), and then add the jars or cans of crushed tomatoes. Then add the red peppers.
Once your tomatoes are in the pot, add all of your dried spices, the wine, and the tomato paste and let simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until your pepper chunks are soft and the sauce has a thicker consistency.
About 10 minutes before you take the sauce off the stove, toss in the handful of fresh basil. When the sauce is finished, let it sit for about 10 minutes. Then add generously to a bowl of cooked pasta. Or if you’re like me, add some pasta to the bowl of sauce.