This is my recipe for the most basic tomato sauce in my pasta-making repertoire. Sometimes called marinara, this is a simple sauce of tomatoes, wine, garlic, and onions, with a hint of basil flavor. The only thing missing from above is the salt. No pepper goes into this until it's served , but you could add a dried red chili. Once made it can go straight onto pasta or—if you look at the end of the recipe—can be used for any number of things.
Since the recipe is already linked, I'll now bring it to life with photos. My special helper pretty much made the sauce her help with just a little help from me.
First, put a frying pan on the stove. YES, a frying pan. Not a pot. Not a sauce pan. It needs to have lots of surface area for this to work. Pour 4-6 glugs of olive oil into it. Coat the bottom of the pan. Do not be shy. Italians use way more olive oil than we do. None of that "two teaspoons" business, use at least 4 or 5 tablespoons. The olive oil is where the flavor is.
Then, smash a couple of cloves of garlic...
Continue cooking on med-hi heat until the onions go all soft and translucent, stirring every so often. (Also make sure you give plenty of kisses to your sous-chef for doing such a great job.)
After about 10 minutes, it's time to add the wine. How much? About this much:
What is that? Half a wine glass? Something like that. It will look like this in the pan:
Normally I wouldn't use a chardonnay in my tomato sauce, I'd choose a drier wine like a frascati or pinot grigio, but this chardonnay wasn't too oak-y so it actually tasted fine. Let the wine reduce, I usually reduce it until I can see the bottom of the pan when I drag my wooden spoon across it, like this:
Now at this point, you're probably thinking, I have to add a can of tomatoes to this? Isn't it going to splatter? Won't it make a huge mess? The answer is yes. Stand back. Oh, and maybe don't wear white when you make this. Trust me, it'll all be fine. Dump in the tomatoes, breaking them up as you stir:
Once the tomatoes are broken up it will look like this, nice and bubbly:
Now add a whole sprig a basil. This basil is from my patio garden. Yes, the whole thing:
And smoosh it down:
Take this moment to practice being zen. Your mantra is "I don't care that my stove is this messy." Repeat or just pour yourself some of that white wine.:
Now just let the sauce simmer on med-low for 15-20 minutes until it reduces by about this much (see the line?):
Okay, that's about a third. If you find the sauce is getting too thick (and this depends on how juicy your canned tomatoes are), don't panic. If you are making this for pasta, when the pasta is almost done cooking, add a spoonful or two of that starchy pasta water to the sauce and all will be okay.
This particular batch of sauce became this:
And eventually, I dealt with this.