Homemade Pasta Sauce, a pleasure of the senses

You know that feeling when you realize you are more and more like your mother? I will never forget visiting my mom and dad a couple years ago. I offered to make dinner one night; thinking ‘simple’, like pasta, sauce and veggies. Only to find out she didn’t have a simple jar of Ragu in her cupboards.  When I questioned her (probably rather indigently, knowing me) about this lack of a jar of an important dietary staple she said something rather cheerfully like, “We can just make it!”  I’m sure I rolled my eyes half way into my head and thought (or quite possibly spewed), “Mom, pouring it form a jar into a sauce pan is considered ‘making it’ in my book.”

The sauce is simmering.  When it is done there will
be about half as much in the potsFast forward five years, I am proud to say that I have about 10 quarts of frozen homemade pasta sauce in my freezer.  Dinner time around here is crazy.  Quick and convenient is very important to me!  So when I do make homemade sauce I make a large batch of it.  After it is made, frozen in quart ziplock freezer bags, it can than be easily defrosted and cooked as quick as a can of Ragu can be opened.

When tomatoes were in season last month I took an afternoon and made it in two large stock pots.  My husband loves the smell of it as he walks in the door after a long day.  In fact, he isn’t much of a compliment giver, but when we have homemade sauce it never fails.  He immediately takes in a huge breath when walking in the door and says, “Something smells good!”

If you are looking for a way to please your senses, with sight and smell try this one afternoon:

Homemade Pasta Sauce
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (28 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes or about 10 fresh tomatoes, skinned and seeds removed
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste  (The paste is imperative even if using fresh tomatoes be sure to add the paste or your sauce will be super runny)
2 cups of veggies like carrots, green peppers or zucchini, coarsely chopped for added nutrition.  I use a food processor to make it nearly invisible (for the sake of the kids) when all is said and done.
2 tablespoons basil
1 tablespoon oregano
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon white sugar
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
1/4 cup red wine

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Saute onions and garlic until tender, 2-3 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and simmer over low heat for 3 hours.  You want the sauce to thicken and will be reduced by about 50% when you are done.

When I take the time to make this recipe I quadruple it. It will take a good chunk of my morning to prepare but for me the time spent in the kitchen (usually with the kids’ help) is so worth the end result.

So Mom, thank you.  Thank you for being patient with me.  Thank you for understanding that not everyone is going to love time in the kitchen.  That people change.  Our priorities change.  Life changes.  And yes, I do still have about about 4 jars of Ragu in the pantry but it feels good in so many ways to have my very /own/ sauce in the freezer as well!

– Leanne from

byLeanne KocsisonMonday, October 03, 2011Military Life:,,

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