There is nothing glamorous about today's post but let's face it, sometimes glamour in the kitchen is overrated. I find it all too easy to ignore recipes that serve as foundations for more complex dishes so I decided to share my recipe for Tomato-Based Pasta Sauce. This recipe is versatile because it can be used with spaghetti, stuffed pasta, eggplant or chicken parmesan, pizza, or with lasagna, which is my favorite application for the sauce. If you are not a fan of fennel, go ahead and leave it out. The sauce is delicious either way.
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup white or yellow onion, chopped
1 28-ounce can San Marzano crushed or diced tomatoes (I prefer this brand but other brands will work)
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
1/8 tsp fennel seed
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp parsley flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp fresh oregano or 1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
1 tsp kosher salt plus one pinch
Heat olive oil in dutch oven on medium heat. Add chopped onion and pinch of kosher salt. Cook until onion is soft and lightly browned. Turn heat to low or medium-low and add crushed tomatoes (undrained), tomato sauce, fennel seed, onion powder, parsley flakes, minced garlic and one tablespoon olive oil (also add oregano if using dried). Cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Add brown sugar, oregano (if using fresh), basil and one teaspoon kosher salt. Cover and simmer for additional 15 minutes to one hour.
The sauce really only needs to simmer for 30 minutes total in order for flavors to meld but I find that the longer it can simmer, the tastier it becomes. When I have time, I simmer my sauce on low heat for 2 to 3 hours. If you are short on time, it is okay to brown onions and then add all other ingredients at once. If the sauce is thinner than preferred, feel free to add tomato paste. The instructions above are simply my ideal way to prepare the sauce. Enjoy!