You probably won’t like this sauce. It’s not for the faint of heart. If you have a timid palate, stay the heck away, ’cause dang! this is a garlicky monster of a sauce. Vegetarian readers, you’re out of luck on this one (unless you leave out the sausage, I suppose). Still undeterred? Curiosity aroused? Well then, brave soul, read on.
I’m going to challenge both your palate and your culinary presuppositions with this recipe. It is entirely my own — no cheat sheets on this one. You probably have never seen this much garlic in a pasta sauce before, but trust me, it works. Here we go.
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 can (28 oz.) San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes
- 1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
- 4 sprigs fresh oregano, leaves plucked
- 3 large heads of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 lb. sweet Italian sausage
- 1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
- Grated parmesan and chiffonade basil for garnish
Did you catch that part about three whole garlic heads? That was not a misprint. They are the backbone of this recipe, and I say again: trust me, it works.
Heat your oven to 400° and arrange the garlic cloves on an oil-sprayed baking sheet. Roast them until they are tender and turn a deep brown color, which will take about 20 minutes, maybe a tad more, and set them aside.
Next, heat the oil in a large deep skillet and sweat the onion until tender but not brown. Add the San Marzano tomatoes and break them up with the back of a fork or wooden spoon. Stir in the oregano leaves, followed by the diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Next come the sugar, salt, cinnamon and roasted garlic cloves. Bring this mixture to a low simmer for about 30 minutes to blend the flavors.
Meanwhile, it’s time to cook the sausage. If you’re using links, remove the casings and slice them into bite-sized chunks. Brown the sausage in a separate skillet over medium-high heat. When it is cooked through, add it to the tomato sauce and continue to simmer another 30 minutes. After the sauce has simmered about an hour in total, turn off the heat and stir in the chopped basil. That’s all there is to it — you’re ready to serve it up with your favorite pasta and a parmesan and basil garnish.
Now, you might think something with this much garlic would be a punch in the face, but you’ll be surprised. Yes, the garlic is pronounced, but the beauty of garlic is that it sweetens as it roasts, and that will come through beautifully in this dish. We munched it down with a big happy grin on our faces to lots of oohs and aahs and “that’s so good”. If you’re brave enough to try this one for yourself, I believe your reaction will be the same. Until next time: Eat well, my friends!