Oven Roasted Garlic with Basil and Tomato Sauce

The days of eating spaghetti sauce from a jar are long behind me. Spaghetti sauce was something that we used to religiously keep on hand. It’s an easy fix for dinner when there’s nothing else to cook, and plus, I am married to a carb-loving pasta eater. Seriously, he would eat pasta every day if he could. Growing up, spaghetti was always a gourmet meal. My mom’s smoked sausage, italian chicken, and meatball pasta has always been my favorite. Perfectly prepared with a variety of meats and a handful of fresh veggies. Then, I met Jacob, and suddenly someone gave my mom’s recipe some competition. Celebrating our first Valentine’s Day together as a couple, Jacob prepared a batch of his mom’s vegetable spaghetti sauce. I quickly had a second favorite. Now every time his mom cooks dinner, her spaghetti sauce is always my first request.

Even though I had watched my mom make her sauce a thousand times, it still felt a little intimidated to try it on my own. Tweaking the recipe (or lack of- she never does the same thing twice) a bit, I gave it a try. To my surprise it turned out great! I don’t know why I doubted myself…

Since then, i’ve loved experimenting with different sauce recipes. Making your own sauce is so easy and plus, it’s so much better for you than store bought sauce!  It’s healthy, fresh, and lacking all of the preservatives often found in store bought sauces. Whether I use meat or veggies, add a splash of wine, or a dash of red pepper, this tomato based sauce is super versatile and fun to play around with.

Made with oven roasted garlic and fresh leaves of basil, this  is a simple and easy recipe for those just starting out. Adjust the ingredients according to your taste. Add a little more sugar if you like a sweeter sauce, omit the pepper if you don’t like spice, etc.  To each his own!

Oven Roasted Garlic with Basil and Tomato Sauce:

2 medium heads of roasted garlic

1/4 cup olive oil

2  32oz cans whole tomatoes

1.5 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

15 large fresh basil leaves, shredded

While your garlic is roasting, add your tomatoes, oil, and salt to a large skillet, simmering gently. With a large wooden spoon, lightly press on the tomatoes to loosely break them apart. If you like a chunkier sauce, take it easy here. If you don’t like your sauce chunky at all, you can use a food processor to puree your tomatoes before adding them to the skillet. Add your sugar and pepper and continue simmering.

Once your garlic is done roasting, add the peeled cloves and simmer for 5-1o minutes more. Just before pulling your sauce from the heat, stir in your basil. Ladle over your favorite cooked pasta and finish it off with a few slivers of fresh Parmesan cheese.

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