This easy-to-make sauce is something we have on hand all the time. I make it in large batches and freeze extra; it freezes quite well. It’s a very flavorful sauce and is great on pasta, with meatballs, in sandwiches, as a sauce for steamed veggies, on top of farro or quinoa – its uses are endless. It’s always a hit with dinner guests. If you’ve been buying sauce in a jar, stop that immediately. This sauce is way more affordable and healthy, and you’ll want to just buy a good loaf of Italian bread, heat up some sauce in a dish, and use the bread to scoop it up (in Italian this is called ‘fare la scarpetta — to make the little shoe).
For a large batch of sauce:
Three large yellow onions, chopped
6-7 large cloves garlic, minced
Three cans whole imported Italian San Marzano tomatoes (trust me, this really does make the difference. I have tried the sauce with American grown tomatoes, there is no comparison)
Handful of fennel seeds
Two dried hot red peppers, minced
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
Cover the bottom of a large heavy pan with good olive oil. Heat the pan over a medium flame, then toss in the onions and let them melt for a few minutes in the oil. After they start to get translucent, add in the garlic. Add in the fennel seeds, salt, and pepper, and let them cook for a couple of minutes. Do not let them brown. Now toss in the tomatoes. Turn the heat down, and let this sauce cook for two or three hours. You will need to stir it more often towards the end to prevent burning. In the beginning, you can stir it once every 15-20 minutes.
After an hour or so, taste your sauce. At this point you can add more seasoning (salt, pepper, or even red peppers) as necessary. If you add hot dried peppers, you need to let the sauce cook for a while until the peppers are softened and their flavor is incorporated.
It’s pretty incredible that such a sparse list of ingredients can create such a delicious sauce, but it’s true. Just be sure to start with excellent ingredients. They will make all the difference.