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Year of the Noodle:  Week 30

I felt cranky yesterday.  I did not want to work, did not want to go on my morning bike ride, did not want to do anything.  The only thing that seemed appealing was making comfort food. A big plate of penne with homemade sauce, a big salad and garlic bread…ahh, comfort food at its finest.

I’ve been waiting all year for tomato season so that I could make homemade sauce.  It didn’t seem right to start making tomato based pasta sauces until the fresh tomatoes were ready.  I know that canned tomatoes do wonderful things, but I wanted to really start from scratch.  This sauce turned out pretty good, although basic, and it was eaten pretty fast so I’m going to assume that means it was a winner.  Beware that you need to parboil and peel the tomatoes before you puree them, so give yourself some extra time to make this one.  Enjoy!


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 4 cups fresh tomato puree
  • 1 large fresh basil stem with leaves removed
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, preferably gray salt
  • Pinch baking soda or sugar, if needed

Heat the olive oil in a large non-reactive pot over moderate heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the parsley and garlic and cook briefly to release their fragrance. Add the tomatoes, basil and salt. Simmer briskly until reduced to a sauce like consistency, stirring occasionally so nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot. The timing will depend on the ripeness and meatiness of your tomatoes and the size of your pot. If the sauce thickens too much before the flavors have developed, add a little water and continue cooking.

Taste and adjust the seasoning. If the sauce tastes too acidic, add the baking soda and cook for 5 more minutes. If it needs a touch of sweetness, add the sugar and cook for 5 more minutes. Remove the basil stem before serving.

Source: Michael Chiarello
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