Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Servings: 8 (about 2 cups)
Note: Many pizza recipes use raw tomato sauce. The result is tart and one-dimensional. This sauce, the author's own, is lightly cooked and made with caramelized onions. It calls for fresh herbs, but dried work too. If using dried herbs, skip the sage and rosemary, and use only a pinch of combined dried oregano, parsley and basil.
1 medium onion
2-3 cloves garlic
Leaves from 2 (3-inch) sprigs of basil (about 20 leaves)
Leaves from 2 (4-inch) sprigs of oregano
Leaves from 1 (2-inch) sprig of thyme
2 small sage leaves
2 rosemary needles
Leaves from 4 sprigs of
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup red wine
1 tablespoon sugar
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can chopped tomatoes with juice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1. Peel and chop the onion and set aside. Peel the garlic; chop roughly. Wash and stem the herbs. Combine the herbs with the garlic and mince to a reasonably fine paste.
2. If you have a heat diffuser, use it for this step. In a heavy-bottomed enamel or stainless steel pot with a fitted lid, heat the oil over medium to high heat until it smokes. Reduce the heat to low, tilt the pan to distribute the oil, add the onion and stir until onion is coated with oil. Cook until the onion is just starting to caramelize, about 15 minutes. Add the chopped herbs and garlic and continue to stir for another 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Making sure that the onion is not sticking and that the heat is at the lowest setting, cover the pot and allow the onion to sweat for about 10 minutes. Check, stir, cover and cook for another 10 minutes. Check and stir again; the onion will probably need to sweat another 5 minutes. It is done when translucent and sweet, about 25 minutes total.
4. Add the wine and sugar and increase the heat to medium-high. Bring to a gentle boil and reduce until the onion is coated with a thick wine syrup and the liquid is gone.This will takes about 8 to 10 minutes.
5. Still on medium-high heat, add the can of chopped tomatoes with juice. Stir until the onion and herbs are well combined.
6. Add the salt, pinch by pinch, stirring as you go. Add the pepper afterward: 8 turns of a small grinder should do it.
7. Cook and stir over medium-high heat just long enough for the flavors to come together, about 5 minutes, so the tomato flavor is still relatively bright, most of the liquid has evaporated and the sauce is still loose, like a good pasta sauce.