This isn’t about the meatballs, or the pasta, or the cheese. This, my friends, is about the sauce. You know all those complicated recipes for red sauce that you’ve read over the years? With secret blends of secret spices, with food mills, sugar, someone’s grandmother’s “secret ingredient”? Simmer for 40 hours, stirring constantly, standing on one leg while humming an authentic Italian tune? Smoke and mirrors, my friends, smoke and mirrors.
A simple red sauce is just that, simple. BF always reminisces of his time in Italy (I know, what a jerk. Like he’s gone somewhere I’ve never been? Not fair.) “The sauce there was bright red, not like sauce here.” “The sauces here are too thick.” This and that about the countless ways that his authentic Italian experience kicks the crap out of whatever we’re eating… Then I put my angry face on and tell him he has to take me (some day) 😉
This particular sauce is the end result of having planned a pasta and meatballs dinner without realizing I was out of jarred sauce. No, this isn’t as good as back when he was in Italy (I’m sure nothing ever will be), but it’s a simple red sauce that is refreshing, easy, and surprisingly tasty for its simplicity. All those times I tried (and failed) to make a red sauce to my standards, and of course it’s the simplest one of all that actually ends up being the best. Figures, right?
Simple Red Sauce
- 1 – 28oz can whole plum tomatoes (or San Marzano)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
- 2 Tbsp fresh basil, chiffonade (plus extra for garnish)
- 1 tsp “Italian Seasoning”
- Salt, Pepper, Olive oil
- Parmigiano-Reggiano (or whatever cheese you like to put on your pasta), grated
- In a saucepan, saute the onion until translucent. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant. Reduce heat to low, add tomatoes, and break them up with your spoon. Add basil, cover and allow to simmer about 20 minutes or so over low heat. (While the sauce simmers, cook your pasta)
- Uncover, and puree the sauce with an immersion blender (How mad am I that Cuisinart makes it in purple now? Answer: VERY) or carefully transfer to your food processor and process to desired consistency.
- Toss with pasta and garnish with extra basil & grated cheese.