Okay. I’ll pretend that you were then; or if you weren’t before, you are now!
Because it’s exciting!
I figured one of the next items essential to any cook’s repertoire would be a go-to tomato sauce. Whether you call this tomato sauce, marinara, or gravy as it is religiously referred to in my home, it is the foundation to a great deal of my favorite meals….
Eggplant parmigiana, baked ziti, lasagna, just to name a few.
Now you may be wondering why I would not simply ask my mother for her recipe for gravy. She is, after all, one of the best Italian-American cooks I have ever known (hello mom!) so why not just use hers?
See, that would be easier if she had a recipe to work with in the first place.
It’s one of those magical creations that has no recipe.
I’m not kidding. She just rolls with it every time we ask her to make macaroni.
Sure, there is some sort of calculated genius happening in there, but it’s a code I cannot crack; and even the few times I have tried it has paled in comparison to my fond memories of childhood.
So, I will leave her gravy to her. It is absolutely perfect as is, and it is only perfect when she makes it.
As such, I decided to turn to a cookbook I
hijacked borrowed from one of my lovely friends, The Joy of Cooking.
Can I just say how excited I am to be working from this classic piece of American culture?
Seriously – anyone out there who, like me, wants to learn the ins and outs of cooking needs this book.
It. Has. EVERYTHING.
There’s even an entire section on sauces!
Naturally, that is where I found about six or seven options with which to begin my experiments in tomato sauce.
Though it was nearly impossible to choose, I settled on the classic “Marinara Sauce” recipe as I had everything I needed for it already in my possession.
Correction: I did need to go and secure this lovely bunch of fresh parsley, but for fresh herbs I will happily make the trek to the grocery store.
It’s astounding how quickly this recipe comes together: everything pretty much simmers in a saucepan for 10-15 minutes.
She did state the tomato mixture should go through “a food mill” to which, after staring blankly at the cookbook for a few more minutes than I’d ever admit to anyone, I decided a blender would probably work in the same way.
I love being right.
My high school used to serve us pasta with marinara sauce as a lunch option, and I remember how god-awful that overcooked mess of starch looked on my plate, covered in a tomato mixture where the fat was already congealing in sad lumps.
Friends, this is not that sad mess.
This is (again, aside from my mother’s magic gravy) the best marinara I have ever tasted. The fresh parsley does wonders for the flavor, and running it through the blender ensures that you get every hint of garlic, every bit of herby goodness, in each bite.
I am so thrilled to try out more tomato sauces!
I served this one up in a minimalist fashion, with penne and only a handful of Parmesan cheese. It needs no accompaniments; but that is not to say that homemade meatballs would not be appreciated.
Classic Marinara Sauce
Adapted from: The Joy of Cooking
- 1 (28 oz) can whole tomatoes (save the juices) coarsely chopped
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 6 sprigs parsley, chopped
- salt and pepper, to taste
- to serve: 2 cups pasta, cooked and drained, freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
- Combine first four ingredients in a large pan/skillet over medium-low heat. Let simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, crushing the tomatoes with the back of a spoon as it cooks.
- Let mixture cool slightly, then put in blender and pulse until smooth (or whatever consistency you desire). Season with salt and pepper and serve over pasta with cheese.
Makes about 2 1/2 cups sauce
All Photos, Recipes (Unless Otherwise Specified) And Writing Copyright © 2013 Jessica Gonzalez | On Sugar Mountain