Tomato-Basil Sauce

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Maria Helm Sinskey, culinary director at Robert Sinskey Vineyards, preserves the bumper crop of tomatoes from the winery’s gardens. She cans San Marzano-style tomatoes to use in sauces like this one. You will need 3 quarts of home-canned tomatoes for this recipe. When canning tomatoes, Sinskey processes the jars in a hot-water bath for 40 minutes.


For the tomato-basil sauce: 

  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 5 large garlic cloves 
  • 3 quarts home-canned tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf 
  • 2 tsp. sugar 
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more, to taste 
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste 
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed torn fresh basil leaves 
  • 3/4 lb. spaghetti or other strand pasta 
  • Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for serving 


To make the sauce, in a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the olive oil and garlic and cook until the garlic is just golden on all sides, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Working in batches, puree the tomatoes in a blender until smooth, and then strain through a coarse-mesh sieve into the pan with the oil and garlic. Add the bay leaf, sugar, the 1 tsp. salt and a few grindings of pepper. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until thickened, about 45 minutes.

Just before the sauce is ready, bring a large pot three-fourths full of salted water to a boil, add the spaghetti and cook until al dente (tender but firm to the bite), according to the package instructions. Stir the basil into the sauce and simmer for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Drain the pasta. Spoon about 3/4 cup of the sauce into the bottom of a warmed serving bowl. Add the pasta and toss to coat. Ladle more sauce over the top, sprinkle with cheese and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Family Meals, by Maria Helm Sinskey (Oxmoor House, 2008).

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