There are some things that are “HOME.” You see them, smell them, hear them, and suddenly all the stresses whirling about in your head are not as big as they were a moment ago. Now you feel safer, a little more cheerful, maybe even loved. Uncertainties are a little less scary and impossibilities are surmountable.
I have lots of “home things”: red wing blackbirds, drives through the forest, the animated Beauty and the Beast movie, colorful strings of lights, the Johnny Fedora and Alice Bluebonnet song…but most of my “home things” have to do with food. There is a certain kind of old cookie cutter that you can find in antique stores, the smell of corn on the cob, fresh sprigs of basil, and of course…all of those dishes that conjure up that nostalgic dreamy sense of HOME. My papa’s macaroni and cheese, grandma’s gingerbread cookies, tomatoes warm from hanging on the vine in a caprese salad, my mom’s delicious broccoli cheese soup, sometimes even a bowl of lucky charms will do the trick.
This tomato sauce=home. It is written on an index card in my mom’s recipe box; she copied it down as an old friend explained exactly how his Italian family makes spaghetti sauce and recently she and I spent an entire afternoon in a labor of love making a batch.
Friends, this spaghetti sauce is a hug in a spoon, because honestly? The best way to eat this stuff is by the spoonful. When we make a big bubbling pot of this stuff we have bread and bowls of spaghetti sauce for dinner. That’s it. Just bread dipped into the world’s greatest form of tomato love.
I admit, I might love this sauce so much because it is a “home thing” and so for me it is the ultimate form of comfort. Maybe for you it will just be a really really tasty red sauce for your pasta. Either way, it’s worth it.
First you start by blanching the tomatoes in boiling water until their skins split. Then you shock them in an ice bath so that they stop cooking. From there the messiest part begins, which is peeling the skins and roughly chopping the tomatoes. It might seem intimidating but if you have a buddy it goes super quickly.
After that you essentially throw all the ingredients in the biggest pot you have and let it bubble away. Don’t forget to stir! You don’t want to get burnt bits on the bottom.
After a few hours you will notice that it getting thicker and starting to smell delicious. After 2 hours take a taste test and add any extra herbs or spices you’d like. Enjoy your phenomenal sauce over pasta, with a slice of bread or in a lasagna!
- 12 - 14 lbs tomatoes
- 2 red or green peppers
- 2 white or yellow onions
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 head garlic (12 cloves or more)
- 1 TB of dried oregano
- ⅓ cup fresh basil
- ¼ cup parsley
- 1 TB salt
- 2 TB sugar
- 14 oz tomato paste
- ½ bottle red wine
- red pepper flakes to taste
- 3 Bay leaves
- 1 carrot, shredded
- 1 container of Parmesan cheese (optional)
- 1 pork steak (optional)
- Blanch all the tomatoes in boiling water and then shock them in ice water to cause the skins to split and easy to remove. Roughly chop and add to a deep stock pot.
- If using a pork chop brown on medium heat in a skillet and then add to the tomatoes.
- Add carrot, bay leave, wine, sugar, salt, oregano, basil, parsley, and crushed garlic cloves to tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low.
- In the skillet you used to brown the pork, add a little olive oil and saute the onion and peppers until soft. Add to the tomatoes.
- Grate the carrot and add to tomatoes with the tomato paste.
- Simmer on low heat for 2-4 hours stirring every ten to twenty minutes to prevent scorching on the bottom. When the sauce is thick, chunky and fragrant, you're done! You want the pork steak to be tender enough to pull apart with a fork.
- Shred the pork steak, add container of Parmesan cheese. Taste and add additional herbs and spices if desired. Serve hot over pasta or with fresh bread.