It’s sauce – not gravy. I grew up on sauce. Tomato sauce simmers on Sundays. A big pot is set up so that there is plenty of sauce left over for the week. First, onions and garlic are sautéed in olive oil, surrounding the kitchen with cozy warmth. Crushed tomatoes are added, salted and seasoned.
No one can argue that fresh tomatoes that had been blanched, skinned, seeded and jarred are best for the sauce. But tomato season is short and jarring tomatoes in the heat of the summer is torture. Instead, I get fussy about the brand of canned tomatoes I buy. I’ve tried most of them—even store-brand (blah). Over the years, I’ve become loyal to the Tuttorosso/Redpack whole and crushed canned tomatoes. When the price is right, I will splurge on Cento—Lidia Bastianich’s preferred brand.
Sauce evolved with the time. I set my sauce up in a crockpot. This allowed sauce to cook all day without worrying about burnt pot bottoms and stirring. Mom and Grandma would put meat leftovers from the week in their sauce. A piece of chicken breast, sausage, sliced steak swam in the saucy pool with the fresh meatballs. On special occasions, a tender braciola soaked in the sauce. My daughters shun meat, so my sauce is fashionably vegetarian-friendly. Mom and Grandma used dried parsley, basil, and oregano to flavor the sauce. I season my sauce with fresh herbs, roasted garlic, and homemade pesto.
Sauce is folded into bowls of linguine and ziti and topped on lasagna and manicotti. It is the perfect gravy. At my family’s table, sauce functions beyond the gravy. In the early years, my German husband, Matt, endured Sunday dinner culture shock. He requested butter for bread and a separate plate for salad. He almost gasped when the rest of us—my parents, sisters, brother, grandma, and Aunt Lil, served themselves salad on the macaroni plate and poured sauce on top. A sprinkle of cheese added color and taste.
Sauce—better than gravy or salad dressing.
Welcome to my Blogging A-Z April 2018 Challenge. My theme is Food Stories Remembered because there is always a story when food is involved. I consider myself a good home cook with a great appetite for hearty food. I have witnessed the creation of favorite recipes in friends’ kitchens and have learned from the best—my mother, grandmother, and mother-in-law. Recipes may be included. I am remaining uncommitted on this because when I cook, I seldom measure. If you try any of my recipes, you are cooking at your own risk. Grab a glass of wine. Hope you’re hungry!
Antoinette Truglio Martin is the author of Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer. The memoir is a wimpy patient’s journey through her first year of breast cancer treatment.