April 1, 2013
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When I first moved to Bozeman, my mom came to visit and help me move in. We went grocery shopping to stock my kitchen with essentials like spices, oils, flours, sugars, etc. When we came to the spice section she grabbed a jar of dried basil, oregano and parsley. Throwing them in the cart she said, “Now you can make spaghetti sauce.”
Of all the recipes in my mom’s cookbook, this is the recipe. I’ve said before that this is one of the handful of recipes that I think of when I think of my mom. We use this sauce when we make homemade gnocchi every Christmas and it’s the sauce my mom uses for her amazing Chicken Parmesan (stay tuned for this recipe!).
Numerous times I have gotten frozen containers of this sauce in the mail or as I leave my parents house to drive back to school. It keeps in the freezer for months and my mom always makes a big batch.
When I made it this time I cut the recipe in half and ended up with about 5 cups of sauce. I included the halved recipe here but feel free to double it for a full batch.
- 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
- 2 mild Italian sausages
- ½ onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 12 ounce can tomato paste *see note
- 1 6 ounce can tomato paste *see note
- 3 cups water
- 1 ½ cups red wine
- 1 bay leaf
- pinch of sugar
- ½ tablespoon dried basil + more if needed
- ½ tablespoon dried parsley + more if needed
- ½ tablespoon dried oregano + more if needed
- baking soda (if needed)
Heat olive oil in a medium pot (I used my 3 ½ quart Le Creuset pot). Add the sausage and brown slowly over medium-low heat with the pot partially covered. Once browned on all sides, remove the sausages from the pot.
Add the onion and garlic to the pot and sauté over low heat with the pot partially covered until the onions are softened. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
Add the tomato paste to the pot and stir over medium heat for 1-2 minutes, allowing the paste to cook slightly. Return the sausage to the pot. Add the water and red wine and stir.
Add generous amounts of salt and pepper to the sauce. Add the bay leaf, pinch of sugar, basil, parsley and oregano. Partially cover and simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally.
Adjust spice levels as necessary. If the sauce tastes too acidic, add ¼ teaspoon of baking soda and stir. Do not add too much baking soda or the sauce will become overly sweet. Allow the sauce to cool mostly before transferring it to jars or plastic containers.
Notes: For tomato pastes this is what my mom recommends--for the large can use Hunt’s because it is less acidic and for the small can use Muir Glen for its flavor.
When adjusting spice levels, the sauce generally ends up with the most basil, middle amount parsley and least oregano.
I divided my sauce into two quart-sized jars and put one sausage in each jar.
This sauce will keep in the freezer for months.
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