A Simple Sauce
Thanks to my grandmother
When I want something fast and simple for dinner, my usual route is to turn to pasta. Sometimes it’s pasta with oil and garlic. Other times it’s pasta with oil, garlic, chicken and broccoli. Whatever works, right?
Making a tomato sauce is an all-day affair. Between making the meatballs, sautéing oil and garlic, slicing sausage and pepperoni and adding it to the sauce it takes time. Then it’s about adding spices, wine, and more to bring the sauce up to my taste standards. Those tastes standards were instilled in me from my grandparents.
The other night was a night made for a side dish of pasta. I made a quick sauce though. I didn’t have time to make my normal sauce, and I wasn’t it the mood for oil and garlic. So I decided on a simple sauce my grandmother taught me how to make when I was just nine years old.
Back then we had pasta almost daily. It was what my grandfather wanted with dinner every night on top of a salad and whatever the main course was. My grandmother never forgot my grandfather’s pasta and to be honest I was thrilled that he wanted pasta with those evening meals. It was how I learned so many great and simple recipes.
My favorite recipe of hers was when she would go into the garden and pick tomatoes from the garden and then grab oregano and basil from the herb garden. Then she would get a frying pan out and start to sauté the oil and garlic with a little salt and pepper. While that was sautéing she would slice the tomatoes. She used her filet knife because she wanted thin slices. That was something she would always say, and it sounded something like this (with an Italian accent), “Markajohn, you need to slice the tomatoes thin or else they won’t cook right.”
Then once she had the slices ready and the oil and garlic was ready, she would add the oregano and basil, let that sauté for a little and then throw the tomatoes slices in and let it all come together. Then she would turn up the heat and stir everything in the pan. She would always tell me to stir with love otherwise the food wouldn’t taste right. Who was I to argue?
She would stir everything for the first ten minutes and then let it cook. Then she would turn the heat down and let the sauce continue to cook. About 20 to 25 minutes later she would turn the stove down to simmer and let the sauce made up of tomatoes, basil, oregano, garlic, and oil come together. The smell throughout the house was unbelievable. I wish I could replicate that smell for you right now.
What you see above is the same sauce with the same ingredients and the same smell throughout the house. When Patti and Lisa came walking in from running errands they couldn’t believe the smell coming to greet them. No matter how many times they have smelled my sauce cooking on a Sunday this sauce just really had a more aromatic smell. At least that’s what they said.
Not trying to pat myself on the back or anything, but I must admit the smell was fantastic and brought me back to the days in Catania and my grandmothers cooking. I guess I learned something?
I’d love to offer you a smell or a taste, but since I can’t I will offer you the recipe in more detail if you want, all you have to do is comment and I will post it in the comments and a little coaching if you need to make this simple, fresh, and aromatic tomato sauce for your next meal.
Mark, Patti, & Lisa