Joel and I went on a beautiful hike this past Sunday. We were gone all day and the last thing we felt like doing upon arriving home was rush to get dressed and go out to dinner. Since I always have the ingredients for this recipe on hand, this dinner was a no brainer. Red sauce and spaghetti. I also had some delicious chicken sausage on hand so I threw that on the grill and there you have it–dinner on the plate. This is my basic go-to red sauce. You can serve it and freeze the remaining sauce for a long while and then the next time you want to use it, you merely take it out in the morning and then you’ll have dinner for that night!
6 cloves garlic (average size; increase or decrease depending on size of cloves), peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 28oz cans of whole, peeled tomatoes with their juices (San Marzano type)
Freshly ground black pepper
*red pepper flakes (also optional; I love the heat)
* Italian herbs (You can usually buy this in a jar. Spice Islands makes an excellent one–it’s a combo of oregano, marjoram, thyme, basil, rosemary and sage. It’s a perfect blend of spices in a jar and saves a whole lot of time. This is also optional.)
*Teaspoon of sugar (also optional; I use it because it removes any acidic flavors)
* Red wine (optional but if you have it, use about 1/2 cup)
* Fresh basil (optional; you might not have on hand and it’s really okay without it but so fresh tasting with it. I actually had some in my herb pot and went out and cut some, but this certainly doesn’t always happen.)
Fresh grated parmesan cheese
You can use all of these spices or as many as you like at your own discretion. Season to your taste.
Pasta of your choice (This time I used Perciatelli. It’s thick and ropey and we love it.)
I had Aidells chicken sausage with mango and jalapeno and chicken with apple that I grilled alongside the pasta.
Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in as large a saucepan as you have. It needs to be fairly large. Add the chopped garlic and continue cooking on a low flame for about 5 minutes until the garlic softens, but not burns. Add the 2 cans of tomatoes and their juice and if you have fresh basil, add a few leaves now. (A lot of the tomatoes already have basil in them.) Turn up the heat and bring the sauce to a boil. Then bring the heat down and simmer for about one hour, at the very least. I usually cook it for about 1 1/2 hours. Use the back of a wooden spoon to crush the tomatoes; continue stirring often and add as many herbs and seasonings as you like. Taste it for additional salt; throw in about a teaspoon of sugar; and if you have red wine, put in approximately 1/2 cup (and then you have my permission to drink the rest with dinner). Continue crushing down tomatoes and stir occasionally. It will thicken up and your house will smell like Italy. I know a lot of people use onions at the beginning of this along with the garlic, but I don’t use them. I have in the past, but not everyone loves that flavor. If you do want to use them, you can add some chopped Spanish onion (about 1/2 of onion) when you put in garlic.
Cook pasta according to directions on the package.
For just me and Joel, I use about 8 oz pasta, plate individually and freeze the remaining sauce.
* Serves 4 as a main with 16 oz of pasta or 8 as a side dish