Basic Marinara Sauce

Makes 2 quarts

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
2 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 celery stalk, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes or 3-5 pounds fresh, cored and chopped
2 dried bay leaves

In a large pot, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper, to taste.

The sauce can be made 1 day ahead.


Roasted Tomato Sauce with Basil

Makes about 1 quart

3 pounds tomatoes (beefsteak or plum), cored and halved
2 medium onions, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 carrots, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
6 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
½ cup plus 3 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Use a sharp paring knife to core the tomatoes. Cut tomatoes in half; transfer to one large (or two smaller) rimmed baking sheet; add onion, carrots, garlic, and thyme.

Toss tomato mixture with oil; season generously with salt and pepper. Spread in a single layer (turn tomatoes cut side down). Roast until tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. If vegetables begin to brown too quickly, push them toward the center of the sheet.

Using tongs or your fingers, peel off tomato skins; discard. Transfer (including juices) to a blender. Add the onion to the food processor. Peel the garlic cloves and drop them into the food processor with the tomatoes. Pulse several times, until desired consistency is reached. Add basil, balsamic vinegar, and the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Pulse to combine.

Season with salt and pepper. Let cool completely; transfer to an airtight container. Refrigerate up to 1 week, or freeze up to 3 months.


Garden Fresh Pesto

The classic Italian sauce native to Genoa tastes delicious on everything from pasta to pizza to grilled fish. It’s excellent stirred into salads or slathered on sandwich bread. Although store-made pesto is widely available, it’s easy to make. Pesto is simply an uncooked paste consisting of fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil. It can be made with a mortar and pestle or in a food processor. Once you have mastered the basic recipe, you can get creative with other herb, nut, and cheese combinations.

2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 garlic clove, peeled
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
1/2 to 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
In a blender or food processor, pulse the basil, pine nuts, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until finely chopped.

With the machine running, slowly add the olive oil until the mixture forms a smooth and thick consistency. Add the Parmesan and pulse until combined. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.