“Chi si volta, e chi si gira, sempre a casa va finire.”
~No matter where you go or turn, you’ll always end up at home.
Nothing says home to me quite like my Sundays when I make my sauces in bulk. I always make 3 or 4 batches of Italian red sauce every couple of months, then freeze it to use later in spaghetti, lasagna, pizza, or whatever is on the menu.
I love the smell of the house when I get the smashed tomatoes, garlic and onions sauteing in the olive oil, adding dashes of salt & pepper, basil, sugar, maybe some oregano or a bay leaf if I’m feeling it that day. (Don’t forget to remove the bay leaf when done cooking because they can present a choking hazard.) Before letting it simmer, I add some tomato sauce or paste (add a can of water if you use paste). I usually try to keep it very simple prior to freezing so I can use it as a base sauce and get creative later.
My stomach began growling halfway through the afternoon as my sauces simmered in the two giant soup pots I had going. When I deemed them ready, I let them cool for a bit while having a snack. Since the Hillbilly and the Boy are incredibly picky eaters and refuse to eat things with chunks of vegetables, I run everything through a food processor before separating it out in containers for freezing.
Now, that the prep work is done, I can decide what flavors I want tonight.
- Italian sausage, ground beef, mixture of the two?
- Meatballs or just brown it?
- Sweet or savory?
So many decisions!!!
- If you like it sweet, add more sugar.
- Vegetarian? Instead of meat, saute carrots, celery, green, yellow or red peppers, eggplant, garbanzo beans, squash, zucchini…the choices are endless.
- Want it with more layering of flavors? Select from basil, oregano, parsley, thyme, marjoram, sage, rosemary. Experiment to find your preferred combination.
- Love cheese? Add some freshly grated Parmesan, Mozzarella, Ricotta, Provolone, Asiago or any of the other Italian cheeses, either to the sauce or on top.
What I really love about Italian cooking is the versatility. Serve your sauce over noodles, in a casserole (baked spaghetti, not my thing, but no judgement!), on cheese-stuffed shells, or even as just a dipping sauce with some crusty bread.
I decided to go very simple tonight, ground beef, browned in a skillet with some garlic and onions. I added some basil, oregano, crushed red pepper and parsley to my base sauce and then served it on regular spaghetti noodles. As you can see, I like my sauce like I like my men, thick and hearty. Wait, that doesn’t make sense…or does it?!?!?
I’ve given everyone the basics of making a good sauce, but no recipe because tastes are so varied on this issue. Have fun and experiment until you find your sauce!