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Spicy Sauce: Free Yourself from the Tyranny of Big Sauce

My whole life I have eaten Prego pasta sauce and only Prego pasta sauce.  It’s what my folks bought, so it’s what I bought.  It comes in a bunch of varieties and it’s cheap.  What more do you want out of a pasta sauce?  Chances were, I’d always buy Prego.  Or so I thought.
 
Last weekend, however, with a craving for seafood pasta, I stumbled upon the secret Big Sauce doesn’t want you to know: Making your own pasta sauce is cheap and easy, and your homemade sauce will be far more flavorful than what you can pick up at the store.   I made my discovery because I wanted a spicy sauce to go with the seafood for my pasta di mare, and I didn’t trust that anything from Prego or Ragu was up to the task.  A bit of googling led me to some super simple spicy pasta sauce recipes, which I then modified to fit my own taste.

Here’s what you need to make Burner’s Spicy Pasta Sauce:
·         1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
·         1 onion, chopped
·         6 cloves of garlic, minced
·         ½ cup white wine
·         2 teaspoons olive oil
·         1 teaspoon salt
·         3 teaspoons dried oregano
·         3 bay leaves
·         1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
 

Notes: The original version of this recipe called for a tablespoon of sugar. I’m not much for sweet sauces, but if you are, go nuts.   Also, I jacked up the amounts of oregano and bay leaves (be sure to remove these before serving); adjust to your taste.  Finally, all the heat in this sauce comes from the red pepper flakes, so again adjust to your taste.
 
To make the sauce, all you have to do is heat up the olive oil, cook the onion and garlic until they’re tender, then toss in everything else and let it simmer for an hour.   It’s that simple. This recipe makes about three two-person servings, at about the same cost as a jar of sauce from the pasta aisle.   You can see why those fat cats at Big Sauce tried to hide this from you.
 
Once the sauce is cooked, you can add whatever you like to make of a meal of it.  For pasta di mare, just toss in some steamed clams (toss out the ones that don’t open) and some sautéed scallops and shrimp. (To sauté the scallops and shrimp, heat up some more olive oil, toss in some more minced garlic, add the seafood, and stir till firm but not rubbery.) Or, to go traditional, add a little Italian sausage or some meatballs and let them simmer in the sauce for a bit.

Now I can hear some out there protesting that an hour is a long time to spend making sauce after a long day’s work.  Of course, the sauce can easily be made on the weekend and saved for reheating on a busy weeknight.  Or you could take that hour of simmering and … use it to work up an appetite.  At any rate, once you’ve tasted this easy-to-make and very flavorful sauce, you’ll never go back to Big Sauce’s bland offerings.

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