Basic Tomato Sauce and Recipes for Using It

>> Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Basic Tomato Sauce
Marinara sauce is a basic Italian tomato sauce.
Jessie, the next Sunday you're at home doing your schoolwork and Erich's watching the hockey game, why not try making some homemade tomato sauce? I promise you it tastes better than any spaghetti sauce in a jar, and it's the basis for a bunch of other tasty recipes. It will also fill your apartment with humidity and mouth-watering aroma in the middle of a cold and dry winter. You can make a big pot of it, freeze the leftovers, and use it for a bunch of the recipes I've listed below.

I think fresh herbs are the best, so come home and get some from my windowsill whenever you want.

By the way, did you know different pasta shapes are best for different sauces? Generally, the lighter and more delicate the sauce, the thinner the pasta. Shapes that are tubes like penne hold really juicy sauces, and ones that have bumpy shapes like farfalle or rotini are good for sauces with a lot of texture and lumps.

Mmm,fresh herbs.


1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 large onion, diced (about 1 cup)
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 15-oz can tomato sauce
1 small (4-5 oz) can tomato paste
1 1/2 cups beef broth
6 cups chopped fresh Roma tomatoes, or 1 64-oz can chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup red wine
2 tbsp fresh or dry oregano, minced
1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped, or 3 tbsp dry basil
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 tbsp salt


Heat the oil in a big pot on medium heat. Add the pepper flakes, onion, and garlic and saute until they are soft. Whisk together the tomato paste and broth until it is well combined, then pour it into the pot. Stir in the rest of the ingredients. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce heat and let it simmer for at least an hour, or until the sauce is thick and smooth.

Garden Vegetable Spaghetti Sauce

This is one way I used to slip some extra veggies into your diet when you were younger, and I'm not sorry, either. This might be a good way to get Erich to eat more vegetables.

4 cups Tomato sauce
1 cup carrots, diced
1 cup red or green bell peppers, finely chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
1 cup beef broth

Mix all the ingredients in a pot and simmer for 1 hour. Serve over pasta.
Serves 4-6.

Basic Lasagne

2 cups Tomato Sauce
6 sheets lasagne noodles
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
2 eggs
2 tbsp oregano
2 cups shredded provolone cheese

Boil the lasagne noodles until soft, then drain them. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8x8 casserole dish with butter spray, then spread 1/2 cup of tomato sauce in the bottom of the pan. 

Stir together the ricotta, eggs, and oregano. Lay down 2 lasagne noodles in the pan, cutting them so that they fit. Spread 1/2 of the ricotta over the noodles, then spread 1/2 cup of the sauce over the ricotta mixture. Lay down 2 more lasagne noodles the opposite way. Spread with the rest of the ricotta and 1 cup of mozzarella. Lay down the last two noodles, then spread the rest of the sauce over the top. Sprinkle with the rest of the cheese.

Cover the pan with foil and bake about 45 minutes, until the casserole is cooked through and the cheese is melted.
Serves 4-6.

Chicken Parmesan

4 breaded chicken patties
3 cups tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese (we like to buy a wedge of parmesan and grate it at home)
1 tbsp dried oregano

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Spread half of the tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish. Place the chicken in a single layer on top of the sauce. Pour the rest of the sauce over the chicken, then sprinkle with the mozzarella, parmesan, and oregano. 

Cover the pan with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Take off the foil and bake until the cheese is slightly browned and the chicken is very hot.

Italian Spaghetti and Meatballs

4 cups tomato sauce
1 cup beef broth
1 egg
1/2 pound uncooked Italian sausage links
1/2 pound lean ground beef (I like the 80% to 93% lean, even though it's more expensive)
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1 package spaghetti

Pour the sauce and broth into a pot and bring it to a simmer over medium heat. Cut the skin off the sausage and crumble it into a mixing bowl. Crumble the hamburger meat into the bowl, then stir in the rest of the ingredients. 

With your hands, roll about 1 tablespoon of meat into a tight ball, and drop it into the sauce. When you've made all the meatballs and put them in the sauce, put a lid on the pot, turn the heat to low, and let it simmer for 45 to 60 minutes, until the meatballs are done and the sauce is thick.

Boil the spaghetti according to the package directions, and serve the sauce and meatballs over the top of the spaghetti.

Serves 4-6.

Pasta Alla Vodka

3 cups tomato sauce
1/2 cup vodka (try pepper vodka!)
2 tsp red pepper flakes or ground cayenne pepper
1 cup half-and-half
1/4 cup chopped basil leaves, or 2 tbsp dried basil
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 package fettucine

In a saucepan, simmer together the tomato sauce, vodka, and red pepper flakes for 20 minutes. Turn the heat to low. Pour in the half-and-half, basil, and parmesan, and warm through for 15 minutes. Make sure it doesn't boil, or the cream might separate and look curdly. It will still taste good, though.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions, then toss together the pasta and sauce before serving.

Serves 4-6.


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