How to Make a Good Spaghetti Sauce from Scratch
A Rite of Passage
I’ve often preached about rites of passage; here’re four of mine. Before a man goes out into the world he needs to know how to do four things that his mother did for him.
- Sew a button
- Hem his own pants
- Do his own laundry
- Make tomato sauce from scratch
The first three skills are for survival. You have to be able to maintain your own clothes and you should be able to handle a needle and thread without making your thumb a pin cushion. It’s necessary. Believe me.
The last skill is something you should do so that you can feed your soul and know you can cook something really good correctly. Trust me, you’ll thank me for this simple recipe that takes a small amount of effort, a long time to cook, and a minute to serve.
I believe that there are two schools of cooking tomato sauce. One is you watch the first Godfather movie and pay attention to Clemenza’s cooking advice on how to cook for a group of hungry guys. I have to say that it’s quite ingenious and if you have the time and inclination, you should try it. Not that this is the recipe I’m going to write about, but it’s good to know.
Hey kid, c’mon over here and learn something. You might have to cook for twenty guys someday. You start out with a little bit of oil and you fry some garlic. And you throw in some tomatoes and some tomato paste – you fry it and make sure it doesn’t stick. You get it to a boil and shove in all your sausage and your meatballs – add a little bit of wine and a little bit of sugar. And that’s my trick.
All of the elements of what you need to know to make a good spaghetti sauce were in that simple paragraph. What you should do is almost an exercise in zen philosophy in cooking the sauce and getting some pure enjoyment out of it.
The sauce I’m going to give you is a very light and tasty bit of cooking that any moron can do. Feed this to your family, friends, or date and it’s sure to be a hit.
- 13 plum tomatoes, diced
- 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
- 8 leaves sweet basil (from the plant), torn
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, separated as two quarter cups
- pinch sea salt, optional
- pinch black pepper, optional
- Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)
Here's what you do
- Pour a quarter cup of extra virgin olive oil into a large pot over the lowest heat setting. Add half of the plum tomatoes and all the minced garlic to the pot. Take the basil leaves and TEAR them and throw them into the pot over the tomatoes. Tearing the basil – rather than cutting it – releases more flavor into the mixture. Add the other half of tomatoes into the pot. Add another quarter cup of extra virgin olive oil and cover. (The first bit of oil is for the tomatoes on the bottom and the second is to help break down the rest in the pot.)
- Let mixture heat for a half hour. Stir contents with a wooden spoon. Once again, you are cooking this slowly at the lowest setting on your stove. Cover again and let cook. After the first hour, uncover the sauce and stir every fifteen minutes for another hour and a half. The tomatoes should be breaking down and mixing with the garlic and the basil.
- Be sure to taste the sauce and add salt and pepper as needed, if you wish.
- There are two ways to serve this. I recommend that this be served with angel hair pasta. You can either dump the entire mixture into the already cooked pasta (mixing it in a large pasta bowl) or you can ladle it onto the pasta for each serving. The choice is yours.