I learned how to cook by watching my mom and participating willingly in the daily dinner creation. My mom is an amazing cook and I strive to recreate her success in my own kitchen. The most important thing in her mind (and mine) is to taste as you go along and to develop a solid base from which you can build many things.
The “sauce” is one such base. It is the first thing I ever learned to cook and to this day it is my most favorite comfort food (especially when I come home from a long trip). Tomato sauce (marinara) is easy, fast and reasonably healthy. If you can master this, may you never reach for the jarred sauce again!
The basic ingredients:
1 Can of whole peeled plum tomatoes (any brand you like)
3-4 large cloves of garlic
Handful fresh basil (or maybe a tablespoon of dried)
salt & pepper to taste
I usually start my sauce when I put the pasta water on to boil. The sauce is done by the time the pasta is cooked, but you can leave it to simmer as long as you like. It will thicken the longer you leave it on to simmer and I like mine light and fresh. Speaking of fresh, you can easily use fresh tomatoes in this recipe, just be sure to take the skins off as some people find them hard to digest.
So, it goes a little something like this: pour a generous amount of olive oil in the bottom of a sauce pan. My rule of thumb is to coat the bottom of the pan. Peel and cut your garlic into large chunks. (makes it easier to fish them out later). In the meantime, open the can of tomatoes, use a stick blender if you have one to crush the tomatoes. Alternatively, you can use your hands (especially if you are having a bad day and feel like CRUSHING things). It’s up to you what consistancy you want to give to the sauce.
Throw your garlic into the olive oil on medium heat. Stir to keep from burning. Once the garlic is lightly browned and smellin’ fine add your tomatoes. Stir and add basil and some salt and pepper to taste. Lower the heat a little and allow to simmer while your pasta cooks, stir occasionally.
THAT’S IT. REALLY.
You can add oregano if you like it, I don’t (no, I am not revoking my Italian heritage!). If you like a sweet sauce, add a small carrot and 1/2 stalk of celery to the tomato while it simmers and it will make your sauce (and maybe you!) sweeter.