Our friend Laura gave us this recipe, but only under the solemn promise that we would never share it with anyone. You see, the world does not know the secret of good fresh sauce and would not be able to handle its truth. Laura got the recipe from her father, who was born in Sicily. When he first prepared The Sauce for Laura, she was astonished to find that he did not add onion. Doesn’t all sauce need onion? Greg had the same reaction when she shared the secret of The Sauce with him: “What? No onion?” That’s right. No onion. That’s the secret the world could never handle and the secret of the magnificent taste of The Sauce. If you must make this sauce, fine. But under no circumstances should you ever pass on the secret. Or the recipe.
1/2 to 1 medium head of garlic, depending on strength and freshness
1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup basil, packed, plus another 1/4 cup set aside for garnish
2 (35-ounce) cans of unsalted pureed Italian plum tomatoes or 2 boxes Pomi chopped tomatoes or about 5 pounds of fresh tomatoes, seeded and chopped
Kosher salt to taste
Penne or linguine
Slice the cloves of garlic crosswise and like Paul Sorvino did in “Goodfellas”: very, very, very thin.
Chop basil coarsely.
Heat oil on a medium-low flame until hot. Add garlic and saute until lightly golden, stirring fairly often. This step calls for great restraint and patience. Do not burn or let the garlic get crispy or brown. If you burn the garlic, throw it out, drain and wash the saute pan and start the whole process over.
Turn heat to medium high and stir the sauce regularly for 2 to 3 minutes. Add a tablespoon or so of Kosher salt, or to taste.
Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Don’t cook this sauce any more than half an hour; this is not one of those fairy-tale varieties made by an Italian grandmother who simmers the pot for four straight days.
Remove from heat and add the basil.
Spoon generously over pasta.