I never knew my maternal birth grandmother Mary Gentile who, so I was told, pronounced the t-i-l-e at the end of her name like you’d pronounce ceramic tile instead of like you’d pronounce lily, which is how it would be in Italy. I guess she was embarrased about being Italian — she was first generation Italian-American during an era when Italians were often discriminated against. But for me, when I found out I’m almost 100% Italian, I was excited to learn all of my ancestor’s long syllabled, vowel ending last names. And, I was really happy to get a couple of old family recipes.
My maternal grandfather, the only non-Italian in the bunch of birth grandparents, and a fellow curious cook gave me my grandmother’s recipe for tomato sauce. Always in search of the perfect sauce, I loved this one from the start. It’s a thick sauce that can be used not only on any form of pasta from spaghetti to ravioli to gnocchi, but can also be used as a pizza sauce.
I made it for my birthmother once and she said, “That’s not my mother’s sauce. I have no idea where my dad got that recipe.” No matter where Gramps got this recipe, I like to think it’s from my grandmother Gentile, which I pronounce with the sound of lily on the end.
Mary Gentile’s Tomato Sauce
1 – 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes (I prefer imported Italian tomatoes.)
1 – 6 ounce can tomato paste
1 cup water
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1 tsp sugar
3 cloves garlic minced
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt
Combining the ingredients:
Reserve 1/2 cup of the water and put all of the remaining ingredients into a large pot on top of the stove. Turn the burner to medium.
Stir to combine and cover the pot partially with a lid to keep the sauce from splattering all over your kitchen wall. Cook the sauce for up to an hour and a half adding 1/4 cups of water as needed — about every 30 minutes. This is meant to be a thick tomato sauce, so don’t add too much water.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and prepare your favorite pasta as directed, then top with the tomato sauce and some grated parmesian. Mangia, Mangia!
Makes enough to top 6 generous servings of pastaPrint This Post