I love Italian food and my children and husband feel the same way. I am certainly not above buying a jar of sauce from the grocery store and doctoring it up, but sometimes, it’s nice to have a large pot of tomato sauce simmering away on the stove all day. The garlic and sweet tomato scent will have you ready for dinner hours before it’s time to eat! Recently, Henry was up BEFORE 5:00 AM, so I decided to start making sauce early in the morning. I may have stolen spoonfuls throughout the day, but hey, I needed to monitor it! This sauce is so easy to make and it uses canned tomatoes because every chef on television says they’re better in sauces, so why not!? After I share the recipe for this sauce, I’m going to share an alternate topping for chicken parmesan that uses fresh from the garden summer produce.
I have made this sauce for a few years and incorporated played around with various recipes until I got it just the way we like it. You can always add more or less of something if you want more basil, red pepper, etc. You really can’t mess this one up!
The Simmer Down Sauce cast of characters:
- 1 ½ T. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
- 1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes
- 5 cloves garlic (peeled and chopped)
- ½ white onion (chopped)
- ½ T. crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 bunch basil leaves, to taste
- ½ cup white wine (I used a sauvignon blanc)
- salt and white pepper, to taste
- 2 T. butter
- 1-2 T. sugar
- Heat olive oil in pan on low heat. Add onion, garlic, and crushed red pepper, stirring occasionally. Sauté until onions are soft and garlic is lightly golden.
- In a large pot, squeeze peeled tomatoes through hands or mash with a potato masher. Add crushed tomatoes, garlic, onion and chopped basil. Allow to heat and cook together for 5 minutes.
- Add white wine. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer sauce for 90 minutes.
- Add butter and sugar and stir. (more basil can also be added here if desired).
- Cook uncovered on low for 30 more minutes. Add salt to taste.
My people don’t like squash and zucchini, so when I decided to utilize produce from my inlaw’s garden with the chicken parmesan, the alternative for them was the above sauce. Meme and Pops came to visit last weekend and brought with them a bag of fresh veggies. They included the most interesting looking eggplant, Ichiban eggplant. It has an entirely different shape than traditional eggplant, but tastes just as wonderful!
For the chicken parmesan and the veggie medley, I used:
- ¼ c. flour
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2/3 c. Italian breadcrumbs
- 4 thinly sliced chicken breast fillets
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
- fresh mozzarella slices
- I used 1 chopped zucchini, 1 chopped yellow squash, 1 chopped Ichiban eggplant
- I used 1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- ¼ c. fresh basil
- Preheat broiler. Place flour, egg, and breadcrumbs in separate shallow containers. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour; dip in egg, dredge in breadcrumbs.
- Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, cooking 1-2 minutes on each side. Place in a baking dish that has been coated with non-stick cooking spray.
- Top chicken with cheese and broil 1½-2 minutes. Add more olive oil to pan and heat to medium-high heat. Add veggies except tomatoes, sautéing for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, garlic, and salt to taste; sauté another 3-5 minutes. Spoon over chicken and top with basil.
The veggie medley is fabulous on it’s own. I served it the night before with jalapeno and onion, but I ate it all for lunch the next day and needed more for the chicken parmesan! You may certainly substitute any fresh vegetables that you want to incorporate.
- I recommend not cooking the chicken completely in the skillet. Placing it in the broiler will continue cooking it.
- If fresh mozzarella isn’t available (Andalusia people…wink, wink), sliced or shredded will work just as well.
- You can also give the cheese a nice sprinkle of grated parmesan before popping it under the broiler. It gives the cheese more depth and cheese on cheese is never bad!