My Winning Tomato Sauce

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My sauce bubbling away on the stove!

I am incredibly late in posting this recipe, but better late then never right?

A while back, I participated in a “tomato sauce off” competition hosted by my friends Carlton and Matt, at their impeccably decorated and well appointed DC townhouse.

Ok, so maybe I was the one throwing around the word competition, but honestly you can’t try to tell an Italian girl you are able to match up against her sauce. It is pretty much like proposing a duel.

I’ve post a recipe for tomato sauce on my blog in the past, but I decided to take things up a notch. Not that the previous recipe was lacking, but I was also in a competition with myself to make it even better. Typical.

I arrived at the house and Carlton’s sauce was already bubbling away on the gorgeous stove. Immediately the camera was out and I found myself apologizing for the insane number of photos I was taking of their kitchen.

Carlton's delicious sauce

Carlton’s delicious sauce

As I took out my few, but equally important ingredients for my tomato sauce, Carlton came over and commented on the cans of San Marzano tomatoes. Ah yes, I replied, my secret weapon.

I had threatened the competition it seemed!

As I went about making my sauce, the other guests started to arrive, including friends of Matt and Carlton’s who brought their self-described “non-conventional tomato sauce.”

It was a vegetable broth based sauce with chunks of tomatoes and an array of spices that gave a unique selection to our otherwise classic sauce variety.

Love this spacious and sleek shelf unit!

Love this spacious and sleek shelf unit!

And then in walked in my chief vegetarian consultant, and Matt’s childhood friend, Alyson. Cocktails and wine began to be distributed, with Matt playing an impressive bartender.

As I was continuing to work away at my sauce, Carlton crafted a fresh Caesar dressing from scratch to dress the kale salad.

Dinner was soon served and first up the kale Caesar salad. Carlton said he’s made this dressing quite often and I told him I needed to get the recipe to post!

Carlton putting the finishing touches on his Kale Caesar Salad

Carlton putting the finishing touches on his Kale Caesar Salad

Then we proceeded to the next course, pasta and a variety of sauces. I essentially wanted to be a good tester and as such placed three small separate pile of spaghetti with each respective sauce.

Carlton had made more of a thicker tomato sauce using garlic, spices and olive oil, similar to mine. I tried his first and it was quite tasty. Oh no, was I in trouble?

Then it was on to the next entry, the vegetable broth based sauce. Its unique flavor profile compared to Carlton’s gave it an edge.

Sauce #3, very tasty!

Sauce #3, very tasty!

And then it was on to my sauce. As I peered around the table for reactions I saw smiling faces and received thumbs up. It was good. Phew.

Now, was it the best? Well, to be polite no one really revealed which was “the best.” But I’d like to think in my mind I won the competition I had with myself. Alyson put it best when she said, “I think the winner out of this were the eaters!”

My Winning Tomato Sauce

  • 3-28 ounce cans crushed San Marzano tomatoes
  • full head of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • handful fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 shake of red pepper flakes (more or less to your liking of the spice)

In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add in garlic and cook two minutes, then add in onion and cook until translucent.

Add in a couple shakes of salt and some fresh grinds of pepper, red pepper flakes and Italian seasoning.

Then stir in the tomatoes and let sit for a few minutes. Taste for seasoning (at this point I added in a touch more salt and pepper an another teaspoon or two of Italian seasoning). Add in the sugar and stir.

Turn up the heat to high so the sauce starts to bubble and add in the wine, fresh basil and cheese. Stir for a minute on high heat and then turn the heat down to low and let the sauce lightly bubble away for five minutes, stirring occasionally.

At this point I again taste for seasoning and tend to add a touch more wine. Make sure to also taste for salt and pepper. Let the sauce sit for another 10 to 15 minutes and it should be ready to go!

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3 thoughts on “My Winning Tomato Sauce

  1. Loving the recipe! I was wondering though, whenever I make tomato sauce it sometimes tends to be a little sour… Is there any tip you could give to prevent the sauce to become too sour-ish?

    • Hi and thanks for reading! I would recommend that you make sure to slow cook your onions, which will help bring out the natural sugar and avoid any sour taste to your sauce. So in the beginning, where I mention “cook the onions until translucent, make sure your heat is on the lower end and let the onions cook slowly, which will bring out the natural sugars.
      In this recipe though I do add 2 teaspoons of sugar to the sauce to offset the acidity of the tomatoes (which can cause the sauce to taste sour possibly). So if you follow the recipe and add in the sugar in the recipe, you should be all set (even without slow cooking your onions 🙂 Thanks for reading !!

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