Grandma Di Gangi’s Tomato Sauce

Sometimes you come back from a long run, because you need to be able to run a half marathon in four weeks, and all of your energy has been replaced with hunger.  Cue: penne pasta with my grandmother’s tomato sauce.

My Grandma Di Gangi is not Sicilian as her name would suggest -you probably know that Gangi is a mountain town in central Siciliy, so I understand your confusion.  The Sicilian was my grandfather.  Grandma was born a Maquignaz (take that, telemarketers), which puts her from Val d’Aosta in the Italian Alps.  Very different areas, very different culinary traditions – tomatoes aren’t even a big deal that far north – and Grandpa was not a cook.  This is all to say that I don’t know where this recipe comes from, regionally speaking – but it is simple, delicious, and reminds me of family dinners at home.

Lessons learned:  Be careful crushing the tomatoes as they cook – they will not hesitate to spray liquid tomato on your white shirt.  You can add some dried oregano or basil if you’d like, or top individual servings with Parmesan cheese like my family did growing up.  (My grandfather would have told you that cheese ruins the taste.  To each their own).  These days, I eat it straight up, which is simplest & makes it an awesomely affordable way to feed four.  This recipe multiplies easily for larger parties or for optimal leftovers – it freezes well, too.  Needless to say, I’m not hungry any more.

Grandma Di Gangi’s Tomato Sauce


1 onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 can whole tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp sugar
salt & pepper to taste


1.  In a medium saucepan over medium heat, saute the onion in the olive oil until soft.  Add the garlic; stir until onions are translucent.  Add canned tomatoes with their liquid, tomato paste, bay leaf, sugar, and salt & pepper to taste.  Bring to a simmer and let it cook, stirring occasionally to crush tomatoes against the side of the saucepan, for 45-60 minutes.  Serve over your favourite pasta.

One Comment

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  1. Mmmmmm. Great recipe, and great writing Caroo!

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