It's true I was born of parents mostly of Italian heritage. My mother-in-law also is Italian-American.
Yet, for some reason, every time it came time to make lasagna or stuffed shells or any kind of pasta, I found myself doctoring up jar sauce with tomato sauce, paste and spices.
It was good, but just not the kind of sauce Mom would make. So after making excuses for years about being a working mother with just not enough time to spend cooking homemade sauce, I finally decided it was time.
Spaghetti sauce from puree may be more work than opening a jar of store-bought sauce, but the end result is worth it.
I started by hitting the grocery store with a list of ingredients that were a mix of a recipe I had found online and the ingredients that I knew both mom and my mother-in-law use in their sauces. I've been cooking for long enough that I was confident in my ability to mix up the recipes and make somewhat of my own sauce.
My mother-in-law starts with a puree, rather than whole tomatoes. It might be a bit of a short-cut, but I think it really creates a good taste.
My mom was always big on the combination of all the seasonings, and she taught me to add a tiny bit of sugar - not too much! - just to take away some of the tartness of the tomatoes. She had learned that trick from an old Italian neighbor of hers shortly after she got married almost 50 years ago.
Large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 28-oz cans tomato puree
2 6-oz cans tomato paste
1 small can tomato sauce
1/2 tsp. dried oregano; or 1 tbsp fresh minced oregano
1 tsp. dried basil; or 2 tbsp fresh minced basil
pinch of rosemary
2 or 3 bay leaves
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp garlic salt
pepper to taste
1/4 tsp sugar
Dice onion and garlic. Saute onion in the bottom of a large pot in the olive oil. When onion is clear, add the garlic and cook until very lightly colored. Stir in both cans of tomato puree. Fill one can to top with water and mix into the puree. Stir in the paste. Stir in rest of the ingredients.
Bring sauce to a boil, stirring continuously to avoid sticking. Immediately reduce heat to low and cook for about 90 minutes, or more, until the sauce begins to thicken. Stir frequently.
Serve over pasta.
Servings: About 12 to 15.
The sauce did simmer for at least two hours to thicken up. Remember to keep the burner very low to avoid sticking and stir frequently.
The pot will serve many, or a family of four (like mine) many times. I served it up on pasta immediately, then froze the rest in two equal portions that I can serve for two more meals.
I must admit, it was a little more work than starting with a store-bought jar sauce, but in the end it was worth every bit of it.