Back in the Days Of Vox (…aww) I used to keep a series of non-scientific but well-loved recipes. I lived in a big group house, and my roommates would ask me to cook “shrimp thing" or "pasta thing”. I had a blast teaching people I lived with how to cook, though I’m by no means any expert. That is to say, any measurements are accidental and approximate.
Arrabbiata is marinara-like, but about 1000x better, because it has peppers in it. If you’ve never had arrabbiata before, Scarpetta makes a great store-bought one.
Here’s how I make mine: suitable for large crowds, dresses up Costco ravioli that are turning into a brick in the freezer, makes the house smell good, everyone wins.
Saute onions and garlic in olive oil until they’re translucent. You can add fresh sweet and/or hot peppers if you have ‘em. Salt & fresh-ground pepper.
Two glugs of red wine, red pepper flakes, fresh parsley, fresh basil, a can of San Marzanos/bunch of fresh plum or Creole tomatoes, lemon juice, and whatever other “italian seasonings” you’ve got powdering away in the pantry.
(Except oregano. Oregano only goes in pizza sauce, good people.)
A bit of sugar. Taste. Simmer. Taste again. You probably need more salt. Is it spicy enough? Good. If it isn’t, gradually add more pepper flakes, simmer some more, taste again.
Let it cook for as long as you have time to, 30 minutes is a minimum for all that tasting and correcting. If you want to veer off-course, roasted garlic is nice in this, capers instead of lemon juice, pancetta, whatever you like.
Finish the sauce with butter before you serve it. Drop in small chunks of cold unsalted butter, stir until it looks like restaurant food. That’s why restaurant food tastes good. Margarine is for punks, don’t do that to your food.
Pasta suggestion: penne rigate or “penne with lines”, aforementioned frozen Costco ravioli brick, rotini, or whatever pasta you’ve got that holds sauce well.
Salad, bread, done.
(This is from when I had time to jar & gift pasta sauce to people. Double-aww.)
Next up: chili thing!