A nickel will get you on the subway, but garlic will get you a seat. ~Old New York Proverb
With neighbors with names like Piccolo, Fiore, Maniscalco my street in the suburbs of Chicago smelled like olives and garlic; mix in a few Greeks and some nice Jewish families and you have my neighborhood. My best friend, an Italian triplet, had a father who would feed you calamari salad and good crusty bread for simply knocking on the door when he was home. He always said I was too skinny but called me a “cutie, cutie movie star”. I loved that family. I was so impressed that they could spend an entire weekend making sausage in basement with Zia Maria or Zia Anna or Zia whoever. Other weekends were swallowed up with curing olives. To my girlfriend Diana this was just another family affair. But to me, this was magical. I wish I had an Italian somewhere in my bloodline, no such luck.
I have not lived on Ivy lane in over 20+ years. Sadly, I haven’t had an Italian neighbor since moving to Kentucky. Who’s shocked? What has not changed is my affection for Italians and their food. I have goofed around with recipes for years before landing on this ridiculously easy and full of fresh flavor sauce. I eat this at least once a week. I think you will too.
Tomato+Basil+Red Wine=Saucy Love
3 TBS of olive oil
1 med onion roughly chopped
1 28 oz can Italian tomatoes/chef’s cut*
4 cloves minced garlic
2 glugs of red wine. (glug, glug…enough.)
1 TBS anchovy paste (omit for vegan version)
a handful of fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste
In a deep skillet, over medium low heat add olive oil and onions. Cook slowly for 6-8 minutes. We are not looking to caramelize these just soften well. Add garlic, cook for 1 minute more. Increase heat to medium and add the tomatoes, anchovy paste(optional) and your glugs of wine. Simmer for 10 minutes. Ladle this sauce into your blender. Add a handful of fresh basil. Please make sure that the lid is on well, blending hot liquid can be dangerous. Zip that around until well blended, 30/40 seconds or so. Return sauce to skillet simmer 10 more minutes. Salt and Pepper to taste. Don’t be shy with the salt, tomatoes love salt. Pour over your favorite pasta. Love that saucy sauce.
*Please use good canned Italian tomatoes. There is a notable difference between Italian tomatoes and regular American canned tomatoes. They are also more expensive but do the math: even at $3 a can you make make a decent dinner for 6 for under $10.