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Slow-cooked Tomato Sauce Base

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Why I Love This Recipe

I must give credit where credit is due... I originally picked up this recipe off the Internet about 5 years ago... I have modified it many times, over the years, but since I found this I have ceased to purchase tomatoe sauce/red gravy in the Mega-mart. This makes alot, so have some ziploc baggies ready to fill & store in the freezer. I manage about 10-12 meals (with 1 lb of pasta) out of this batch, this will depend on how 'Saucy' you like your pasta through. For the original recipe, check out this site... <---This link no longer works

Ingredients You'll Need

8 cans (28 oz) peeled Italian plum or regular tomatoes, cut up
Depending on the Tomatoes used you may need to drain them
The Trader Joes Brand does not need drained
If you have to drain ‘Water’ off the tomatoes
add 3- 15oz cans tomato sauce and drop the tomato paste from the recipe
1 small can of tomato paste
8 large cloves garlic- finely chopped
1 large RED onion, minced (Unless you can get your hands on Walla Walla or Maui Sweet)
1 shallot minced
10 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 Large Carrot Chopped Fine or *grated*
1 Celery Rib Chopped VERY Fine (Chervil is better if you can find it)
2 inches of anchovy paste or, 1-2 anchovies (smashed)
1 TB minced parsley
1 TB Dried Oregano
2 ½ tsp whole Fennel seed (crushed in a mortar & pestle)
1 TB Dried Marjoram
1 ½ tsp Dried Summer Savory
2 tsp Dried Thyme
1 tsp Dried Rosemary
1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flake
1/2 teaspoon Fine Grind Black Pepper
1 TB Basil (For Later)
Salt to taste (usually 1/2 - 1 tsp.)


Add Olive oil to a LARGE Stock pot over medium heat.

Add Onion, Carrot, Celery and sweat until clear. (a Soffritto kind of an Italian Mirepoix)

Add Shallot & Garlic, sweat until fragrant, do not let the garlic brown.

Remove from heat and add Anchovy Paste and All herbs EXCEPT the Basil, while oil is warm. This releases the fat solubles out of the herbs. Stir until fragrant. Open your cans of tomatoes; drain them if necessary.

You can either chop them on a board or stick a long knife into a can and move it around to slice them up or, as I do, dump them unceremoniously into your stock pot, grab your potato masher and go to town. Either way, your sliced/chopped/crushed tomatoes should be added to the pot along with either the tomato paste or the tomato sauce, depending on the condition of your canned tomatoes.

Return stock pot to Low heat, or use a diffuser on medium heat.

Your sauce will scorch VERY easily at this point, and that would be a VERY bad thing.

Bring to a simmer uncovered, the water absolutely has to be able to evaporate and condense your sauce. Simmer for 5 to 6 hours stirring occasionally (Not constantly, but you should not leave the house for any length of time)

I like to smooth out my base sauce, since I can always add fresh or diced tomatoes later. Consequently at about the 4 hour mark I attack the sauce with a stick blender to make it smoother;

This is when I add the basil, because basil does not respond well to long cooking times becoming bitter if over cooked.

When sauce is sufficiently thick and concentrated, begin salting, don’t be afraid it is seems a little over salted, you will be putting this on pasta, which will absorb any excess salt.

Remove from heat and let cool to room temp before storing in Zip loc bags in the freezer.

What do ya do with it?

Now you have a base sauce, you can do several things with this.

Thaw and simmer for 10 minutes then…………..

Add vodka and cream for Penne alla vodka or

Sangiovese and crushed tomatoes for Mostaccioli alla Marinara or

Diced Tomatoes, a little white wine and some pancetta for Bucatini all' Amatriciana or

1 – 2 tsp more red pepper flake and about 6 oz pancetta chopped for Arrabbiata to stuff Conchiglia or

Italian sausage, white wine, parsley and mushrooms for a Ragù alla Bolognese or

Chunks of Steak, red wine and LOTS of Basil for a Ragù Napoletano or

Oil Cured Black Olives, ½ tsp Red Pepper Flake, Extra garlic, Capers in brine and Anchovies for Puttanesca.

Or do what I LOVE the most,

Make lots and lots of L-a-s-a-g-n-a

or a big batch of Baked Ziti;

This can even be used as Pizza Sauce…

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