I don’t know about your grandmother but mine was of the Italian variety and there wasn’t a Sunday in my childhood that she didn’t make a big ole pot of spaghetti sauce from scratch. I can still remember the aroma wafting from her little kitchen in the middle of Los Angeles – garlic sizzling with sweet onions and oregano in a bath of olive oil. My stomach growls thinking about the rich sauce and how us kids would sneak a piece of bread and dip it into the sauce (one had to check to make sure it was okay, after all) right there on the stove.
Today, recreating my grandmother’s spaghetti sauce is as quick as it is delicious – and no need for that jar stuff you find on the grocery store shelves. My grandmother (and yours too, probably) always cooked from scratch. Sure, she also never had a smart phone to distract her (nor was she addicted to ‘Words with Friends’, not that I am), the only television she watched were a couple of soap operas, and I’m fairly sure none of her five children played soccer in the 1930s – but cooking from scratch doesn’t have to take a long time or be complicated. Throw it all in a pot, simmer it while you do other things (like play ‘Words with Friends’) and your dinner is ready.
This recipe uses canned tomatoes but if you have a garden of fresh tomatoes, by all means use them (or a combination of both, something I often do). It’ll make about 6 cups, more than enough for a pound of pasta tonight and another pound on another night. The sauce freezes great and lasts about 3 months in your freezer.
As my grandmother used to say in her half-English, half-Italian, “If you go away hungry, it’s your own fault.”
- 2 28oz. cans crushed tomatoes (or about 4 lbs. fresh, roughly chopped)
- 1 small can tomato paste
- 3 Tbl. olive oil, divided
- ½ cup chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tbl. dried oregano
- 1 Tbl. each: dried parsley & basil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 bay leaf
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- 1. Sauté diced onions in a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven on medium-high heat in 2 Tbl. olive oil until soft and slightly browned, about five minutes.
- 2. Push onions to one side of the pot and pour the additional tablespoon of olive oil and add the oregano, parsley, basil, red pepper flakes, and garlic. Sauté 1 minute.
- 3. Add ½ cup broth and simmer until liquid is reduced by half.
- 4. Add tomatoes and can of tomato paste plus 2 paste cans worth of water and stir.
- 5. Add bay leaf, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil.
- 6. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for at least an hour, stirring occasionally.