If you ask my children to describe their favorite Meatless Monday meal, they would surely respond “Spaghetti with red sauce.” One might call this boring, I prefer to go with straightforward and delicious. I do keep jarred sauce in my pantry but I mostly make Lidia Bastianich’s marinara.
For years, I have referred to the book, Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen, that accompanied her PBS cooking show of the same name. With only 5 ingredients, the recipe is easily doubled and frozen with good success.
The first time you make this sauce, you might feel like there is too much oil and maybe even too much garlic. Trust the recipe and adjust accordingly the next time you prepare red sauce at home. I happen to love the garlicky aroma and flavor of this sauce.
Lidia Bastianich’s Marinara Sauce
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
8 garlic cloves, peeled
1 (35-oz.) can Italian plum tomatoes
(preferably San Marzano), seeded and lightly crushed, with their liquid
1/2 tsp. kosher salt, more to taste
generous pinch crushed red pepper. more to taste
10 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
Heat the oil in a 5-quart heavy bottomed soup pot over medium heat. Whack the garlic with the flat side of a knife, add it to the oil, and cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes.
Carefully slide tomatoes and their liquid into the oil. Bring to a boil, and season with salt and crushed red pepper. Lower the heat so sauce is at a lively simmer. Cook, breaking up tomatoes with a spoon, until sauce is chunky and thick, about 20 minutes.
Stir in the basil about 5 minutes before sauce is finished. Taste sauce, and season with salt and red pepper if necessary.
If you live at my house, you then take an immersion blender and process sauce until it is smooth and chunk-free because my husband and children freak out if the tomato sauce is chunky.
Lidia’s Italy is full of recipes by and information about Lidia Bastianich.