Tomato Vodka Sauce

When it comes to pasta sauce, homemade is far superior to store bought. I understand store bought is convenient and some of it isn't all that bad. I always keep a jar on hand for my lazy meal days and they can easily be tweaked to make them a little more gourmet. But the real thing, that's where it's at. I've made this sauce a few times and it's definitely my favourite pasta sauce recipe. It comes courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis, one of the easiest gals to watch on the Food Network. I usually pair this up with rigatoni pasta but I made my own pasta this time (more on that later). As part of my homemade Christmas, I decided to can this sauce and give them as gifts. The sauce is simple to make and worth the extra effort. Here's the recipe:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, sliced

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 (32) ounce cans crushed tomatoes

1 tsp dried oregano

a handle full of basil, chopped

2 dried bay leaves

1 cup vodka

1/2 cup cream

1/2 grated parmesan

 *Giada's recipe also includes carrot and celery but I don't think they're a necessity. 

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Slice the onion and add it to the pot. When soft, add the garlic, careful not to burn it.  Add the dried oregano. Blend with canned tomatoes with a hand blender or in a blender until smooth. Return to pot. Add the bay leaves. Simmer for 15 minutes. Next, add the vodka and simmer for another 10 minutes. (The alcohol will cook out of the sauce so it's okay to serve it to kidlets). Remove the bay leaves. Add the basil. (If you are canning the sauce, stop here). Turn off the heat and add the cream and parmesan. Mix with pasta of your choice and enjoy.

I made A LOT of sauce so I used large cans of crushed tomatoes. Costco large. I blended the sauce after adding the basil. I did not include the dairy ingredients because I canned the sauce and didn't want to make the recipients of the sauce very, very ill. I did, however, include a chunk of wrapped parmesan with each jar of sauce.

Here's what the jars of sauce look like:

Tomato Vodka Sauce

Tomato Vodka Sauce

Tomato Vodka Sauce

Tomato Vodka Sauce

Tomato Vodka Sauce

I used a water bath canner to can these. Follow the instructions that come with the your canner. They boiled for 40 minutes. After they come out of the water they need to cool on the counter. You should hear the lids pop, indicating that they've sealed. I added labels to jars which I found here. Make sure you print the pages at 100% scale. The tags came with Christmas wrapping paper from Ikea. I wrote instructions for finishing the sauce with the dairy products on these tags. I finished the jars up with a bit of ribbon. These make great homemade gifts. I hope everyone enjoys them!