I made this, initially, for a family meal. Oh, I know, we're supposed to be getting away from pasta dinners, they're evil and bad and everything that's wrong with this country or so I'm told. They're also a large part of what I grew up on. I like them. There is nothing more comforting to me that a nice bowl of pasta with tomato sauce. I can't have it the way I used to, of course. My grandmother's recipe, which I can't reveal here, was very heavy on the pork products and would kill me if I were to try to eat it now. Maybe if I find out I've got a terminal illness or something I'll give it a go, because frankly there is no food in the world quite as beautiful, perfect and delicious as my grandmother's sauce and there is not a day that goes by where I do not feel that it is missing from my life. Seriously, the memory of it is that strong and the level of comfort that it used to bring me is that acute. Anyway, I was having a challenging week and I wanted to have a pasta dinner at some point during the next week. It helped that sauce in the quantity I was making does not take much room in the refrigerator, and this was the week of the jam workshop so fridge space was really at a premium.
Well, we got a few more people for the jam workshop than expected, and a few more people for the Sunday open house than expected, and I certainly didn't have enough food to feed them all. I kind of panicked. What was I going to do? I looked at what I had on hand and I saw the pasta. If I put the sauce over pasta, I might get four servings out of it. (Your family might get more mileage out of it. In my family, the meal was always about the sauce. The pasta was there to get the sauce from your plate to your fork, and I have been known to eat just the sauce with a spoon.) On the other hand... I decided to make some rice and serve the sauce on top of the rice, just like at church festivals. It was actually kind of a hit - I guess most of my friends don't really go to church festivals, which is a pity because church festivals are fun. I was kind of sad not to have my pasta dinner, but it was worth it to share a meal with friends.
Tomato Sauce with Olives (Mileage varies ((see above)); since mileage varies cost per serving varies too.)
3 - 4 pounds plum tomatoes - ours came from the garden - roughly chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 onions, minced
1 head garlic, peeled and chopped
3 bay leaves - the bay leaves should mitigate the acidity of your tomatoes. My grandmother would have pinched me black and blue if she had caught me even thinking about putting sugar in sauce. She'll do it to you too.
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons (or more) dried basil
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 8-oz tub pitted Kalamata olives
- Large saucepan
- Immersion blender
- Heat the oil in the saucepan.
- Add the onions and garlic. Saute over medium heat until softened.
- Add the bay leaves, oregano and basil. If you feel like adding salt now is the time to do it. I've been trying to avoid it.
- Saute the herbs about 30 seconds.
- Add the tomatoes and reduce heat. Cook until the tomatoes have collapsed and reduced themselves. This will take a long time. No decent sauce happens quickly.
- Fish out the bay leaves.
- Use the immersion blender to puree the sauce. It doesn't have to be perfectly smooth - that's just creepy - but it's easier to store if you can get it into a more uniform consistency. It also coats the pasta better if that's what you're using it for.
- Add the olives and cook a little while longer.
- Store or serve.