I love this sauce for its simplicity and versatility. It’s great not only on pasta but I also use it on pizza bases, on top of stuffed eggplants or meatballs.
Always buy good quality canned tomatoes- I use a brand called ‘Carmelina’. They taste great and make me wonder why we spent all that time when we were young making sauce in the backyard (which FYI takes all day long and makes an epic mess- I don’t miss sauce day one bit) when these are so cheap and much more consistent in quality.
Anyway, these tomatoes are whole so you need to pass them through a food mill, along with the sauce that’s in the can. This handy device not only crushes the tomatoes but it also catches all the seeds.
This sauce naturally starts off with onion and garlic cooked in olive oil. As some people don’t like eating either of the two, I decided to chop them up into large pieces and then scoop them out at the end. This way you get the flavour but don’t have to eat bits of garlic and onion if you don’t like it. It’s not conventional but I don’t think it compromises the flavour much so why not? Naturally if they’re not a problem for you then crush the garlic and finely dice the onion and keep them in the sauce.
The herbs are really what make this sauce- I use dried oregano all year round and fresh basil in the summertime. If you have basil in the garden you can dry it out towards the end of summer so that you have some for the winter- before the plants start to flower pull them out and hang them upside down in a cool, dry space. Once they’ve dried out pull the leaves off (discard the branches) and store them in an airtight jar in the pantry.
2 x 400 gram cans of peeled tomatoes
1 small onion, cut into 4 wedges
1 large clove garlic, cut into thirds
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil or about 1 dozen fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat and add the onion. After about one minute add the garlic and saute them for a few minutes, stirring often, taking care not to burn the garlic.
2. Attach the food mill to the saucepan and pass through the tomatoes with all the sauce that’s in the cans. Add the herbs, salt, sugar and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper.
3. Allow the sauce to come to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. (If you don’t have a good saucepan it’s a good idea to invest in a simmer mat- place it over the gas and then sit your pan on top of it- they help diffuse the heat and are perfect for anything which requires a long period of simmering).
4. Using a large slotted spoon, fish out the garlic and onion pieces and discard. If you’re not going to use the sauce immediately, pour it into small containers and store it in the fridge (use it within a few days) or freeze it.