A great sauce for any pasta dish, I usually leave the meats out for most baked dishes. This recipe came to me from my Mother, a full-blooded Italian-American, with a few minor additions/changes by me. I have never found a recipe that I like as much, but then I am probably biased. Cook time is 1 to 8 hours depending on how long you have. Mom used to cook it all day. I like to go at least two hours, but I have spent as little as 45 minutes on the cook time.
- 2 stalks celery
- 1 large onion
- 2 -4 cloves garlic (or 2-4 tablespoons of diced garlic from the jar You can adjust to taste.)
- 3 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste (I prefer Contadina)
- 2 (14 1/2 ounce) cans tomatoes (Use what you prefer, but I like the diced Italian Seasoning type)
- 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 lb ground beef or 1 lb stewing beef, cut in cubes (optional)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (can use vegetable oil if you prefer)
- 4 -8 ounces sliced mushrooms (optional)
- 2 -4 ounces black olives, chopped or sliced (optional)
- 1 bell pepper (optional)
- sweet basil
- italian seasoning, can be used in place of the above spices
- bay leaf
- crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- garlic powder
- onion powder
- black pepper
- Cut celery and onion (and bell pepper if used) as fine as you prefer.
- If you like chunky style sauce make the pieces bigger, I like mine chopped fairly small.
- In a large skillet, heat 1-2 tblspn of oil, when oil is hot (not smoking) add celery and stirfry.
- As celery begins to clarify, add onion (and bell pepper, if used) and stirfry until it begins to glaze, add chopped garlic, stir for a short time (don't let anything begin to brown).
- If using meat, add ground beef or stew beef and brown, stirring regularly, adjust heat to make sure nothing burns.
- Salt and black pepper to taste.
- Transfer to a larger pot (if you have a good sized pot that you can brown in, you can just start with that instead of using the skillet.).
- Stir in tomato paste and cook until the color darkens.
- Stir in tomatos and tomato sauce.
- Add spices (Italian seasoning or individual spices) to taste.
- Add 3 Bay Leaves.
- Stir in mushrooms and/or black olives and crushed red pepper, if desired.
- Stir in 1-2 cans of water (I use the tomato paste, tomato and tomato paste cans to get the leavings out of them.).
- Adjust heat to simmer.
- Let cook for at least 1 hour, longer if you can, and stir regularly.
- Check spice to taste and add what you want.
- You can cook this for a little while or for a longer time.
- I prefer at least 2 hours to give all the spices a chance to blend well.
- But it can be cooked for as little as a half hour.
- If you want it to cook for a long time, monitor the thickness and add water as needed.
- Don't forget to remove the Bay Leaves before serving.
- Some people like to add a pinch of sugar to cut the acidity, but I believe that the Bay Leaves accomplish this and have never used sugar.
- When done, serve over or mix with the cooked pasta of your choice.
- Add grated parmissan if desired.
- Also individuals can add crushed red pepper to their own servings, for those who like it a little spicier.
- If making a baked dish such as Lasagna, Ziti, etc.
- you may want to make the sauce a little thinner (add water) to start with.