Long having an interest in perfecting a tasty long-cooked pasta sauce recipe, I recently queried a few of my Riccetti cousins, who all live in the Chicago area. My cousin Celeste responded with her go-to recipe, one that she calls a marinara sauce. It’s cooked for just an hour, before the possible onset of any possible astringency. The result is something between the 20- to 30-minute simmered quickly cooked tomato sauces I have been cooking often in recent years and the hours-long sauce that many and many restaurants make. I have made this a couple of times now and it has been terrific, both with DOP-certified whole peeled tomatoes and the cheapest ones sold at the supermarket. The vibrancy evident in most decent quality canned tomatoes remains in the finished sauce while also having some depth and complexity. I’ve just paired the sauce with pasta so far, but Celeste mentioned that used it with veal braciole for Christmas to very good effect.
Of possible interest, the recipe has a strong Sicilian influence: the use of tomato paste, the addition of sugar, the combining of both garlic and onion at its base, and the use of oregano for something other than saucing pizza (or making a pizzaiolo sauce). Celeste’s mother, my Aunt Josephine, is Sicilian-American, so it is expected. For tomato sauces for a while, I’ve been using mostly those rooted in Naples that use fewer ingredients along with one from Marcella Hazan, but this one will be getting much more my attention going forward.
Tomatoes, peeled – 28-ounce can, crushed
Tomato paste – 6-ounce can
Water – 1 cup or so, more if desiring a thinner sauce
Onion, medium-sized – 1, finely chopped
Garlic – 3 cloves, finely chopped
Parsley, fresh – 1 teaspoon, finely chopped
Oregano, dried – 1 teaspoon
Salt – 1 teaspoon
Black pepper – ½ teaspoon
Sugar – 2 teaspoons
Olive oil – 1 tablespoon olive oil
Basil, fresh – 2 tablespoons, chopped
- Sweat onion, garlic and parsley in the olive oil.
- Add the tomato paste, stir in well and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add the crushed tomatoes and water to create the desired thickness
- Add the salt, pepper, oregano, and sugar.
- Simmer for 1 hour. No more.
- After sauce has been cooked, add the chopped basil.
I made a couple of small adjustments when I’ve prepared the sauce. For years, I’ve been in the habit of cooking onions down somewhat first when these are part of a recipe. I also used a food mill to remove the stems of the tomatoes and provide a smooth consistency for the sauce.