This Tomato Sauce is a Family Heirloom
In the 1950s, my grandparents were visiting Italy and Grandma was impressed by a tomato sauce that she was eating at a restaurant. She asked the restaurant staff for the recipe, but they could not oblige. Unwilling to leave without, she went to the back alley behind the restaurant and waited by the door. Eventually, the chef came out for something or another, and she told him how amazing her dinner was, asking for the recipe to make for her family back at home. She had to know the recipe! The man was smitten with her inquiry and approach that he gladly passed over the secret that has since become a family heirloom.
This recipe made a lasting impression on Grandma, enough to take home for her family.
Grandma was a “foodie” in every sense of the word and a fantastic entertainer to her guests, such as her grandchildren but also diplomatic elites from around the world. My grandfather worked for the state department in embassies throughout Europe, and they moved around many countries to follow his work before settling for retirement on Cape Cod. She learned lots of culinary dishes while abroad that have been passed down in our family.
Grandma was an impressive cook with a decadent palette, using simple ingredients to make her creations “pop”. Born in Louisiana with lots of french influence in her cooking. We remember her for her sincerity, thoughtfulness, and the impact she had on people with her food. Her legacy has impacted my family and is cherished profoundly!
Recipes are intended to be passed on.
Use a good quality brand canned tomato. Grandma always used Hunt’s whole tomatoes but nowadays, San Marzano Tomatoes with the D.O.P label seems to be the best.
Serve this with Spaghetti or Spaghetti Squash!
Family Heirloom Tomato Sauce
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 28 oz Hunt’s whole tomatoes San Marzano Tomatoes with the D.O.P label are fantastic too.
- 1-2 medium onion
- 3 bay leaves
- Pour olive oil into a cast-iron skillet or regular skillet on medium-low heat. (This would be a 3 or 4 on my electric stovetop)
- Slice onions to create onion rings.
- Once the oil is heated, add onions to the pan. Sauté the onions and flip after about 4 minutes and sauté the other side to caramelize.
- Add the whole tomatoes. I sometimes use crushed or diced tomatoes, but the original recipe passed down was always whole tomatoes.
- Add bay leaves. The bay leaves help to sweeten the sauce and make all the difference in this recipe.
- Use a fork to squish down the tomatoes every so often and stir on a lowish heat.
- Simmer for about 40-45 minutes uncovered.