This simple marinara sauce is the backbone to many of my father's recipes. He would make a far larger quantity than the recipe I'm providing so he could freeze it and use it anytime. I have fond memories of my dad standing over the stove and instructing me to stir in the corners of the pot so none of the sauce would burn. My sister and I would bring small cups to him, which he'd fill with piping hot sauce, and we'd sip on it like soup.
To this recipe you could add several ingredients. I sometimes saute some chopped onion and mushroom in butter and toss that in. My dad adds reconstituted porcini mushrooms that we pick in summertime. I have porcini powder right now, so I sprinkled about 1/2 teaspoon into the sauce. For a putanesca sauce you could add fried up bits of pancetta and kalamata olives. Add a splash of red wine to give it some depth. Add fresh chopped herbs at the end of cooking such as oregano, basil or thyme.
Ingredients (most are eyeballed):
2 large cans of crushed tomatoes
2 tbs. olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 dried chili pepper, or 1 tsp. dried pepper flakes
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tbs. dried basil
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp. sugar
In a saucepan, heat up olive oil over medium flame. Add the garlic, and cook till golden brown on all sides. Be sure not to burn the garlic. If you do, just start over. Garlic is cheap. Add all of the other ingredients. When sauce is bubbling, turn heat to med-low, cover and cook for at least 30 minutes. Stir frequently so the sauce doesn't burn. Freeze leftover sauce in jars.