Basic Red Sauce

Basic Red Sauce

A Recipe from The New York Times Cookbook (1961)

About the Recipe

When I was gifted this cookbook, I did what I always do when I get a clearly well-loved tome – I let it fall open to see where it landed. And it landed on this sauce.

As with most oft made recipes, this one has a ton of notes around it, and they’re all phenomenal. Here’s a close-up of it:

I made it fairly close to as written with the notes adjustments. I also threw in some fresh basil, and I did add a little extra salt.

All in all – if you’re looking for a good red sauce recipe, you can’t miss with this one. I used it to make this Eggplant Parmesan from the Italian Cookbook (1956) pictured above – YUM!

About the Book

I was gifted this book by someone close to me. It belonged to their grandmother, and was one an every day cookbook. And in all honesty, I completely understand why. Even today, the New York Times recipes are wonderful, so it’s no surprise that this book delights at every turn.

The Recipe!


2 cups chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 T olive oil
3 1/2 cups canned Italian-style plum tomatoes, undrained (lg. can)
2 small cans tomato paste
2 cups water or meat broth, approximately
1 bay leaf
1/2 t salt (no added salt per note)
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
1/2 t oregano, or 1/4 t each oregano and basil


Sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil until brown, stirring often. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, water, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, about two hours. Add more water as necessary.

Add the oregano and continue cooking about fifteen minutes. Remove the bay leaf. The sauce should be thick. Serve over cooked spaghetti or use as an ingredient in such dishes as eggplant parmigiana, meat loaf, soups and stews.

2 thoughts on “Basic Red Sauce

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