One of the most common "food wishes" I get is for tomato sauce. Even though I've received hundreds of requests for my tomato sauce recipe, I've resisted filming it for a few reasons.
First, I always thought I would eventually put all my most requested, unpublished recipes on a DVD, and totally get rich. That scheme has been thwarted since, over the course of the last couple years, I filmed and posted just about every recipe that fits that description.
Second, tomato sauce recipes are so personal that what I may think is a perfect all-purpose sauce, you may taste and think is the worse one you ever had. I remember going out to eat as a kid and listening to my mom and aunts talk about how the sauce we were eating was an abomination compared to "our" sauce.
Anyway, those issues aside, this is my basic, all-purpose tomato sauce. I trust you'll taste and adjust the seasoning as you see fit, and be relatively gentle when comparing it to your grandmother's clearly superior version.
One thing I hope you do not change is the tomato. There is little debate among tomato sauce aficionados regarding the advantages using the magnificent San Marzano tomato. This long, intensely red, plum tomato variety imported from Italy can be found in any good Italian market, and most of the larger high-end grocery chains.
Any sauce recipe is only as good as the tomatoes, and unless you're going to use a basket of sugar-sweet, vine-ripened tomatoes in the middle of summer, these are your best option. I hope you find some and give this sauce recipe a try.
The other ingredient that may give you pause is the hint of anchovy paste. Use it. No one will taste it, and while I can't prove any of this, it really does "something." Enjoy!
2 cans (28-oz) whole peeled San Marzano plum tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 rib celery, fine dice
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
water as needed