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Getting Down to Essentials
Just like my mom, I can take any object, whether it's a vegetable or a ceiling tile, and turn it into and Italian dish. That's right, you will say, "Mmmm, I never realized that ceiling tiles could taste this good." The easiest way to accomplish this is to start with a sauce-base. This base will become the bottom layer for whatever you decide to add to it, and believe me, you can add almost anything to it. The onions aren't always necessary (nor are the mushrooms), but I included them in this recipe, just for good measure.
If you enjoy growing your own tomatoes, here is a link that will take you to an order page for the absolute best tomatoes you will ever taste. They make incredible sauce even though they look weird. This is a link to order seeds to grow Cherokee Purples from Johnny's Seed Co. This is a very special tomato.
Here are my favorite brands of some crucial ingredients:
Olive Oil - Coltavita or my second choice would be Berio.
Tomatos (canned) - Delle Alpe or any other IMPORTED San Marzano type of tomato.
Romano Cheeese (imported) - Locatelli.
* Olive Oil
* 1/4 medium sized yellow onion (optional)
* 8 Roma (bell) tomatoes, or 4 medium or large regular tomatoes
OR one large can of imported Italian peeled tomatoes
* Mushrooms (as many as you want - optional)
* 2 medium cloves of garlic
* 3 Pinches of Oregano
* Sweet Basil (either fresh or dried)
* Salt & Pepper
* Crushed Red Pepper, if desired
* Splash of Red Wine (only when using canned tomatoes)
Slice the onions, garlic, mushrooms, and tomatoes so they are ready to be thrown into the skillet. I prefer peeling the tomatoes first. Even if you use canned Italian tomatoes, be sure to remove the hard stems out of them before cooking.
Over a medium-low heat, cover the bottom of your frying pan (preferably, iron skillet) with a thick coating of olive oil. Drop in your onions and fry them for a minute or two before you add the mushrooms. When the onions begin to turn clear, put your garlic in...make sure you don't burn the garlic, because it will become bitter (so will the onions, for that matter).
Now add the tomatoes, and it is time to sprinkle in a couple of pinches of oregano, and some sweet basil. You must crunch the oregano in your fingers to release the flavor of this herb...also, too much oregano can mean death to any dish. You can be fairly liberal with the basil without causing any damage.
Now give it a healthy salting. Add some pepper too ...crushed red pepper is also nice in moderation, but don't add powdered red pepper because it just doesn't taste the same as the crushed variety.
If you're using canned tomatoes then a little red wine is really nice, but personally, I don't think it works very well with fresh tomatoes (for some reason).
Once your tomatoes have broken down a bit, your sauce is now done, and ready for whatever you wish to do with it. You don't have to use it all at once, because you can squeeze about 6 days of life out of it ...or use half and freeze half.