Author: Luisa Perkins
•11:21 AM
We eat a lot of pasta here at the Perkins Homestead. Why? Because it's so very good.

I use the pasta sauce recipe Patrick taught me when we first got married. His sauce is one of the countless reasons why he is the perfect man for me. Patrick went on a two-year mission for our church to Rome, and some angel in the form of a little old Italian woman taught him how to make red sauce. Someday in heaven, I will find her and thank her profusely. Here's what I've done with that second-hand-authentic tutelage.

Patrick's Pasta Sauce
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion OR 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced or pressed
2 teaspoons dried parsley OR a handful of fresh, chopped
1 teaspoon dried basil OR a handful of fresh, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes (I prefer Cento or Muir Glen brands, but Contadina works, too. Some other brands DO NOT.)
Optional: 1 lb. ground beef OR sweet Italian sausages, removed from their casings
Optonal: 8-10 oz. fresh mushrooms, washed and sliced, and a splash of white wine
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 pound dry pasta

Put the olive oil in a heavy, medium-sized pot over low heat. Add the onion or carrot and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. If adding mushrooms, add them next along with the wine and cook them until they release their juices, another few minutes. If adding meat, add it now, raise the heat slightly, and brown while stirring well to prevent big chunks from forming.

Add the garlic and herbs and stir for a moment or two. Marcella Hazan calls this process 'insaporire,' when you are infusing the oil with the heat-released flavors of the herbs. But keep it moving and be brief; you don't want to scorch the garlic, which is easy to do when it's in such tiny pieces. Add the crushed tomatoes and stir well. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Add the butter and cook the sauce until the butter is melted and the sauce is heated through.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions; drain, toss with a couple of tablespoons of butter, and serve with sauce and grated cheese.

This rich, intense sauce goes a long way; you might need less than you think to cover a serving of pasta. Because of this, even if you are feeding seven people, you'll probably have a fair amount of sauce left over.

Here's what I do the next night. Add a cup or two of cream to the leftover sauce and reheat it very gently. Meanwhile, slice and sauté a couple of zucchini in a little olive oil and salt. Once it's cooked but not mushy, add it to the sauce and stir well. Serve over more pasta--maybe a different shape, so the kids don't mutiny.

This is also the sauce I use for lasagne and pizza; I double the recipe when making lasagne and almost always use a béchamel sauce instead of ricotta cheese. Unbelievably good.
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On 17/9/07 , Julie Wright said...

The one thing I hate about dinner is that it comes every day. Thanks for making todays "what do I make them???" agony less painful. I can't wait to try it out!

On 17/9/07 , Kimberly said...

Oh my. Thank you. For the recipe and the extra pounds as well.

On 17/9/07 , Anne Bradshaw said...

Yum! I can almost taste it. And you make Lasagne sauce same way I do--with bechamel sauce!! And I thought no one else in the world did that. At least, no one round here does :-) Only difference is I use a fair shake of Oregano, in addition to the rest. This is my family's all time favorite--next to roast beef and Yorkshire pud. I'm copying it right now to remind me I need to cook again.

On 17/9/07 , Jen said...

Yum! YUM! I'm off to make lasagna in a few minutes... I may just put this together.

Thank you!

On 17/9/07 , Josi said...

Where is my print button!

On 17/9/07 , Jenna said...

My Italian grandmother taught me to make sauce, and it's almost identical to this, except she browns a few pork or beef ribs in the oil first and then lets them simmer in the sauce the entire cooking time for extra flavor. (then remove them and just eat them...the meat falls off the bones and is so delicious!) I always make my own, and it's unbeatable, I agree. And we use it for pizzas, lasagna, Goulash, and breakfast pizzas too. And I like to make loaves of garlic cheese bread and just dunk it in the warm sauce.

On 17/9/07 , dawn said...

Mmm that looks yummy. I sometimes add cream of mushroom soup to tomato sauce to make a creamy sauce. We love pasta and sauce here.

On 18/9/07 , Syar said...

Wrong day to be reading this. 7 more hours until I can break fast. :(

I'll bookmark this tho. I heart pasta.

On 18/9/07 , Annette Lyon said...

Oh, yum . . . I've GOT to try this.

On 20/9/07 , rjlight said...

That's it the next time I'm in your neighborhood -- I'm over for dinner. So one day, there will be a knock on the door and rjlight will be there, lost and confused about how I got to New York.

On 21/9/07 , Sirdar said...

As Dawn said, we eat lots of pasta here too. I would rather eat pasta then potatoes....well unless there is lots of gravy involved :-)

On 23/9/07 , Catherine said...

I love pasta. Why wasn't I born in Italy??!