Streamlined Sunday Tomato Sauce with Grandpa’s Favorite Gemelli

“Heh, come over here, kid, learn something. You never know, you might have to cook for 20 guys someday. You see, you start out with a little bit of oil…”

If you are anything like me, you plan ahead for many meals, but for Italian family favorites, sauces can be as time-consuming as you want them to be for the sake of preserving the family recipes like the famous “Clemenza” sauce depicted in “The Godfather” movie and Sunday dinner can be an all-day event.  While romanticizing the process and delicious results there are quicker methods including a good sauce made in an Instant Pot and tastes pretty darn good.  I can only imagine how many containers of sauce would be in the freezer if Ralph had an Instant Pot back in the day, but then again he loved the long process.

Shortcuts, the theme of the day with a fantastic result…I usually make a ton of meatballs and freeze a good amount of them portioned for at least four hungry diners.  Of course, nestled into some sauce from the pot that was also made that particular day, frozen for future sauces, etc. no great revelations here…both offering a great flavor boost to your easy quick Instant Pot sauce.

So then on to the basic sauce that I made yesterday and keep in mind adding your own seasonings etc. that you prefer makes it your own. Mark Bittman’s sauce takes longer stove-top, but consider his basic recipe for a quick version one that is not far off from many other recipes or my own quick sauce version…I toss in a couple of cleaned carrots, defrost the meatballs and any small containers of sauce that need to be used up to save room for another batch of course.  Then “new to me” today, Mike brought home some Italian sausages and they were someone’s brand of grilled fully cooked sausages, I was leery at first, but in the end they added a fantastic flavor and sweetness to the sauce and they didn’t need any other cooking time beyond the sauce finishing time in the Instant Pot.

So armed with a small food processor and an Instant Pot with nonstick insert…
1/2 of a large red onion, chunked up
3 or so cloves of garlic, smashed
2 carrots washed and no need to peel, cut into thirds
2 cans San Marzano whole tomatoes, rough chopped
a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste
3/4 cup red wine
*optional thawed leftover sauce
2 bay leaves, fresh or dried/fish them out of the sauce before serving
a pile of torn fresh herbs, basil, Greek oregano, leaves of thyme, picked, from the stem rosemary leaves, and our featured herb of the week, Cuban oregano
salt and pepper to taste
a sprinkling of red pepper flakes
a small chunk of parmesan rind to swim in and flavor the sauce
1/4 cup EVOO
*Optional meatballs and sausage links
Thaw the extra sauce and meatballs…

Whiz up the onion and garlic in the processor, and have everything else ready to get tossed into the pot.  Sauté the onions and garlic for a minute or two, stirring, toss in all of the herbs and tomato paste and cook while stirring for another minute.  Deglaze the pot with the red wine add the remaining sauce ingredients and the grilled sausage if using/save the thawed precooked meatballs to just simmer for a few minutes when the sauce is finished.  

*Instant Pot timing for the tomato sauce, after sautéing the veggies and adding the sauce ingredients, stir well and continue to heat on sauté until it starts to bubble a bit (just speeds up the process a bit), turn off and set pressure manually for 15 minutes, be sure that the lid valve is closed…when the timer goes off let the pressure release naturally…time to feast!

Now if you chose to use homemade or store-bought pre-cooked meatballs, just add them to the pot to simmer for about 5 minutes, just long enough to heat through.

Thoughts of the day, a sauce fit for any macaroni that you choose…better yet leftover sauce uses to come.