When I met my wife’s family over twelve years ago and tried their sauce recipe, I knew that I was marrying into the right family. It’s the best tomato based pasta sauce that I have ever eaten. It’s thick, rich and meaty. The ingredients are basic, its seasoned to perfection and cooked slowly. I fell in love with this dish years ago, its contributed to my joy of cooking and my appetite for pasta dishes.
This is one of those dishes that you start on a Saturday morning and the sweet aroma permeates the house all day long while it simmers on the stove. You can make large batches and freeze it or turn it into other meals like… Well I’m not going to tell you since that would be giving away next weeks post. To me and my family this sauce is comfort food, it brings back great memories of family meals of the past. I hope you will find that this recipe transforms your family as it has mine.
“The Family Recipe”
What you will need
3 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Large Yellow Onion Chopped
6 Cloves of Garlic Chopped
1.25 Lbs Ground Beef (90/10)
1 6oz Can of Tomato Paste
1 28oz Can of Tomato Sauce
1 28oz Can of Whole Tomatoes
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1 1/2 Tbs Oregano
3 or 4 Leaves Fresh Basil Julienned (Sliced in strips)
2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper
1 Lb Dried Pasta (I like Spaghetti or Rotini)
In a thick bottomed pot add your olive oil and heat over medium. Once the oil is hot add your chopped onion and cook for 3 minutes. Move the onions to one side of the pot and add your garlic. Let the garlic cook for 1 – 2 minutes, but don’t let it brown (or it will become biter). Mix the onions and garlic togethers. Add a few pinches of salt and pepper, add the oregano and mix together. Move your onions to one side and add the ground beef to the pot. Season the ground beef with salt and pepper. Break the ground beef apart with a wooden spoon and cook until browned. It is okay to mix the onions and garlic in with the ground beef. Once the ground beef is browned, add the tomatoes, sauce and paste. Mix and let the sauce simmer for 2o minutes over low heat. With a potato masher crush the whole tomatoes. Mash them until the sauce becomes smooth. Add the fresh basil. Simmer over low heat for 3 to 4 hours, mixing with a wooden spoon every 30 minutes to make sure the sauce doesn’t burn at the bottom of the pan. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve over pasta and enjoy what my family has enjoyed for half a century.
Grown in the volcanic soil surrounding Mount Vesuvius, the San Marzano Tomatoes are similar to fine dark chocolate, they are rich in flavor, more expensive and high quality. Legend has it, that the San Marzano tomato came to Campania, Italy in 1770 as a gift from Peru. These tomatoes are sweeter and less acidic than other tomatoes, making them perfect for a simple marinara sauce.
Americans love to add ingredients on top of ingredients. Italian cooking is all about simplicity and showcasing one or two ingredients. When it comes to marinara sauce there is no better ingredient to showcase than the San Marzano tomato. The price of these tomatoes are about $5 for a large 28oz can compared to $2 for a large 28oz can of plum tomatoes. The extra $3 is well worth it and won’t break the bank. Good cooking starts with great ingredients. Brands available in supermarkets include Cento, Nina, La Bella, Solinia, Vantia, and Strianese. If you can’t get San Marzano tomatoes don’t bother making this sauce, it just won’t be the same.
1 28oz Can of San Marzano Tomatoes
1 15oz Can of Hunts Tomato Sauce
1/2 of a Medium sized Yellow Onion
3 Cloves of Garlic
Salt & Pepper
2 Table Spoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Table Spoon Butter
1lbs Pasta – spaghetti, linguini or fettuccine
Heat a 4qt sauce pan and add the olive oil and butter. Rough chop the onion and add to a food processor. Chop the onion until very fine but not pureed. Add the onion to the hot oil and butter. Add the garlic to the food processor and chop very fine. Once the onion becomes translucent add the garlic to the pan with the onion, sprinkle with salt & pepper. Cook for 2 – 3 minutes until the garlic softens. Don’t let the garlic darken.
Add the San Marzano Tomatoes, the Tomato sauce and stir. Let the sauce simmer for 10 minutes. Use a potato masher to crush the San Marzano tomatoes, until the sauce is smooth with no large chunks. Simmer the sauce for an additional 20 – 30 minutes and remove from heat. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Add several large basil leaves torn or Julienned.
I prefer to serve this sauce over spaghetti, linguini or fettuccine. Homemade pasta or fresh pasta, such as Buitoni is great too! Cook your pasta according to the package and drain. Promptly after draining add your pasta to the sauce and toss until the pasta is fully coated. Plate the pasta and shred 1 – 2 tbs of parmesan cheese over the pasta and top with fresh basil. Enjoy!