I am a self-labeled foodie, and I love cooking as much as going out to eat…but I’m also a foodie on a budget. So, I’m always looking for ways to save some money, while at the same time not skimping on the flavor. One of the easiest and tastiest ways I’ve found is by making my own sauces. A quality jar of tomato sauce at the grocery store can run you anywhere between $5-$10. What I like to do is buy the much cheaper canned tomatoes, and make my own sauce at home. Not only will this save a lot of $ over time, but I can flavor it exactly as I like.
This is sauce that I came up with a few years ago and it’s my go to tomato sauce recipe. Flavored with garlic, oregano, crushed red pepper as basil, it has a bold, all day taste, but can be made in 30 minutes.
1 28 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes—I prefer San Marzano because they’re sweeter, but any brand works. Just make sure they’re not flavored with anything. Also, don’t get tomato purée or sauce in a can, ugh.
1 package of grape or cherry tomatoes–any kind of tomatoes really works well, even vine ripened or beefsteak tomatoes
4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tin of anchovy fillets, packed in oil and salted—don’t worry if you don’t like eating anchovies or worry that it’s too fishy. The anchovies will melt in the pan, and give your sauce the salt it needs, and a deep umami flavor. This is actually a trick I learned from Rachael Ray a while ago. I was skeptical when she added as well, but it takes the sauce to another level
1 tablespoon of crushed red pepper flakes
½ tablespoon of oregano, dried
½ tablespoon of basil, dried—if you’re going to serve this sauce right away, then a handful of fresh basil is a great way to finish the sauce before it gets tossed with some pasta
To Make the Sauce:
- Set your oven to 400 degrees
- Add the grape tomatoes to a baking pan and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper
- Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes as you complete the rest of the steps
- Heat some oil in the bottom of a sauce pot on medium-high heat until very hot, but not smoking
- Add the anchovies to the pot. As they hit the hot pan, they will begin to melt. Make sure to break them up with a wooden spoon to help them along
- As the anchovies are melting, add the garlic and cook together. Your kitchen will begin to smell amazing. Like your favorite Italian restaurant!
- Let the garlic and anchovies cook for a couple of minutes until the garlic browns a bit
- Add the red pepper flakes, oregano and basil to the pot and stir everything together for a couple of minutes more
- Add the canned tomatoes to the pot and scrape up any bits that might have stuck to bottom of the pot
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the roasted tomatoes to the pot as well. Stir well to incorporate
- Cover and cook for about 5-10 minutes. Resist the urge to keep checking on it. Let everybody get to know each other in the hot tub!
- Uncover and stir. Taste the sauce for seasoning
- If it tastes right, then use an immersion hand blender and pulse the sauce until it is mostly smooth but slightly chunky. If you like a smoother sauce, I would purée it up in a blender or food processor. I like a slight chunkiness to my sauce
- Continue to cook the sauce on the stove for another 3-5 minutes, uncovered this time around
Once the sauce is ready, you can eat it right away, or store it. I always make a big batch of sauce, so I have some to use that day and a jar or two to keep in the freezer. If frozen, it’s good for a couple of months at least. You can use the sauce for pasta, lasagna, meatballs, pizza, as a base for chili, or any number or recipes.