Many moons ago, I tended to use store-bought pasta sauce in my dishes. Until I realised how easy and quick it was to make your own! So, now, instead of using bottled pasta sauces from the supermarket or those high-end gourmet provision stores, I spare about an hour or so to make my own. This way, I get to control what goes into my sauces and adjust accordingly to my preferences (the control freak in me is yelping for joy right now).
The secret to pasta sauce lies in the tomatoes, so get the very best the market has to offer. Get those of the plum variety (the small-ish oval shaped ones), and I find a mix of Roma and San Marzanos to be a good balance of the tart and sweet. I also add a dollop of tomato paste to even out the sharp piquancy of the tomatoes. As for the herbs, I gravitate towards basil and thyme, but rosemary, oregano and parsley are very well-received as well. I also like to saute aromatics like onions and garlic and toss them into the mix as I find they lend sweetness to the sauce. Skip this for an unadulterated pure tomatoey flavour. Lastly, for those who can't take wine in their food, also skip the red in step 2 below.
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 large onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup red wine
7 cups milled tomatoes (bottled plum tomatoes, or canned diced tomatoes work in a pinch)
3 1/2 cups tomato puree
1 tbsp tomato paste
4 tbsp frying oil (I used a chicken fat and bacon renderings-infused olive oil to amp up the flavour)
Optional: 2 tbsp sundried tomato pesto
1/2 cup water
Pinch each of dried basil and thyme
1 tsp sugar
1) Fry garlic and onions in oil until onions translucent, about 2 minutes on medium-high heat.
2) Add red wine and fry until almost completely reduced, about 2 minutes.
3) Add tomatoes and fry for about 1 minute.
4) Add tomato puree.
5) Add tomato paste, herbs and pesto and lower to a simmer for an hour, stirring constantly at 15-min intervals to ensure the bottom of the pot doesn't burn. Add water, by the tablespoon, if necessary.
6) Salt to taste before using. If not using immediately, freeze to store up to a month.