07 February 2010

Spaghetti sauce

Ever since I learned how to make spaghetti sauce from semi-scratch, I can't imagine going back to jarred tomato sauce, which tastes like ketchup mixed with some dried herbs. I say "semi-scratch" because I buy canned crushed tomatoes rather than crushing them myself. At some point, I plan to buy a food mill, so I can easily de-seed/peel tomatoes. And I also want to learn how to can my own food, both to avoid the BPA that lines canned foods and to have a steady supply of home-crushed tomatoes in my pantry. But for now, I use store-bought (though organic and locally-sourced, if possible) canned crushed tomatoes.

The recipe for a delicious tomato sauce is so easy that it's a sin to buy the jarred crap (often processed and filled with preservatives) you find in grocery stores. I start with a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Once the oil is heated I add a medium-to-large chopped onion. To the softened onions, I add chopped cremini mushrooms, salt, and tons of garlic. (Mincing garlic has become a lot easier since I purchased a garlic press.) Once the onions and mushrooms are soft, I add a splash of red wine, letting it reduce before adding a big jar of crushed tomatoes. I then cover the whole concoction to prevent splattering, and occasionally mix it, letting it cook for about 15 more minutes. Add more salt and freshly ground pepper and throw in some herbs (I like basil). I'll also add a bit of crushed red pepper for some heat.

The great thing about making your own sauce is that you can add any ingredients you want. According to Mark Bittman (How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food), you should add the crushed tomatoes last, when the other ingredients have cooked. Since he's yet to steer me wrong, I follow his advice.

Eventually, in addition to learning how to make and can my own crushed tomatoes, I hope to learn how to make my own pasta. For now, I try to use high-quality boxed pasta. The bread, however, is all my own. I've continued to utilize Jim Lahey's bread recipe, and I've had delicious, crusty bread every time. (My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method)

Here's yesterday evening's result - yummy sauce and remarkable bread. And so insanely easy.


  1. Do you have a place to also grow your own tomatoes? That is a beautiful thing...to can the tomatoes you've grown yourself!

  2. I have a tiny patch of dirt in my Philly "backyard." This year, I hope to plant some herbs and a tomato plant or two. You're right, there's nothing like homegrown tomatoes. My parents grow them every year, and I can eat them as if they were peaches!