About once a week, I make some sort of tomato sauce to use in different dishes.  I’ve got my tried and true Marinara but have needed to add something new.  After a little research, I came across this wonderful recipe from Lidia Bastianich.  I love her cookbooks and her philosophy on food.  If you’ve ever watched her on PBS you know that Lidia has a signature phrase that she ends every show or demonstration with “tutti a tavola a mangiare” which she translates for us “everyone to the table to eat.” This phrase not only makes me, the cook feel good, it also let’s family and friends know that something wonderful is about to happen…the sharing of food, laughter and love.

Simple Tomato Sauce

2 35-oz cans San Marzano or other Italian plum tomatoes with juices – canned crushed tomatoes can be used.
1 large onion chopped
1 medium carrot chopped
1 inner rib of celery chopped
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
2 cups water
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon honey (optional, after tasting)
  • Chop carrots, celery and onions into small pieces.
    • Add to processor in small batches and process into finely chopped pieces.
  • Saute vegetables in oil over medium heat.
  • Sprinkle with salt.
  • Cook for about three minutes until vegetables are soft but don’t let them brown.
  • Add tomatoes.
    • If using plum tomatoes, put in chopper and pulse several times until there are no large chunks. Add with juice.
  • Use the water to rinse out the cans and add that to the tomatoes.
  • Stir in the bay leaves and pepper flakes.
  • Turn up the heat, cover, and bring to a boil, stirring and checking frequently. Adjust heat to maintain active simmer until there are lots of small bubbles coming from bottom of pot.
  • Cover and cook for about 45 minutes stirring occasionally.
  • Remove lid of pot and raise the heat so the sauce is bubbling, gradually reducing.
  • Cook for  another hour or so, stirring frequently to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  • Taste for salt near the end of cooking and add more if needed.
  • Add honey if need to help with the acuity of the tomatoes.
  • When the sauce has reduced by about 1/4, and is concentrated but still pourable, remove from the heat.
  • Let the sauce cool, remove the bay leaves.
  • Once sauce favors have mellowed, for about an hour or two, reheat and serve with pasta.