Whenever we can, my wife and i host close friends for some good wine and home-made Italian food. Often, my friends ask me for recipes, so here is the basic of all basics, a simple tomato sauce that has evolved through my travels.
I love this "as is" with garden grown basil (if ya have it) and some freshly grated parmesan cheese or it can be built on by adding other ingredients. I call these dishes comfort food, whether i've been on the road for a while or perhaps indulged a bit too heavily the night before, these are dishes that take me back to why I love cooking and sharing food with friends. Savory, satisfying, they feel like a warm embrace to the senses. For wine, I suggest a Toscana Red, perhaps a Chianti or other Sangiovese blend. My good friend Piergiorgio Castellani sells his "Grifone" Chianti at Trader Joe's for Under $7- a wonderful table wine for the price.
As the rule goes in Italy - good, fresh ingredients go a long way for giving a quality experience - at any price.
note: you can adjust this with vine ripened roma tomatoes mid summer for a wonderful light sauce. Sometimes I use white wine with the fresh tomatoes.
¼ cup extra virgin OLIVE OIL
1 brown ONION, chopped in ¼ inch dice
4 garlic CLOVES, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh BASIL leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried
2 28-ounce cans PEELED WHOLE TOMATOES, crushed by hand and juices reserved
SALT to taste (i use a dash every time i introduce a new ingredient)
½ medium CARROT, finely shredded (i discovered this in Tuscany and love the touch of sweetness it introduces - but one can easily remove)
1/2 cup Wine (i use red for heavier dishes / white for lighter)
In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the Basil and carrot and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Add Wine. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt and serve. (mix in a little butter before plating for extra savory).
This sauce can hold one week in the fridge or up to six months in the freezer. Enjoy!