I wanted a good, basic tomato sauce that I could easily use on pizza or as just tomato sauce. The...issue?...with pizza sauce is that it needs to be a tad sweeter than regular tomato sauce. "Need" might be a strong word here as it comes down to personal preference, but in my opine a pizza sauce should be a smidge sweeter than that you put on (or in between) your pasta.
I've gotten away from using refined sugar in my tomato sauce, and not b/c I'm an anti-refined sugar type (I'm anything but). When I read a Batali recipe that uses carrots to sweeten the sauce I said, "Yup, that fat bastard nailed it on the head!" I tried it and VA-VOOM! and from then on I've been using carrots as my sweetener in my sauce.
But the sauce still lacks something. It's not sweetness - it has the right tinge. It's also not any animal-based fat; a good tomato sauce should stand on its own without the fond and drippings from the Holy Trinity: sausage, pork and the blessed meatball.
So while sauteing the onions for this and thinking about a fantastic slice of peach pie and vanilla ice cre.........VANILLA!
I'm not kidding. It's not a lot of vanilla - just 1 TBS per 50oz of tomatoes - but man does it mellow out that tangy edge of tomato sauce and brings out that tomato flavor we all crave.
[Except for those weird-o's who don't like tomato sauce.]
1 box Pomi crushed tomatoes (26 ounces)
1 box Pomi strained tomatoes (26 ounces)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 TBS kosher salt
6 garlic cloves, shaved into thin slices
1 TBS vanilla extract
5 large carrots, peeled and cut in half, lengthwise
12 - 15 basil leaves, whole
2 TSP minced parsley
In a 3 quart pot bring the olive oil up to medium-low heat. Add the onion and salt and let gently simmer for about 15 - 20 minutes, until the onion is very, very soft. Add the carrots and garlic, mix, and simmer for another 3 - 4 minutes until the garlic softens. Add the vanilla extract and simmer an additional minute or two.
Add both boxes of tomatoes (carefully - they'll likely splash), stir to mix and then add in the basil and parsley. Turn heat up to medium to get to a simmer, then reduce to medium-low or low just so the sauce bubbles. Let sit for 1 - 2 hours.
Discard the carrots - or leave or eat them - and then you're done.