There I was with no jarred spaghetti sauce, no defrosted meat, a hankering for spaghetti, and not much time. I was determined not to take a trip to the market -it helped that I had no car, it was raining, and I had two kids in tow. But I also wanted to try my hand at making homemade red sauce- the deep red sauces found at good Italian restaurants that are used to smother baked pasta, lasagna, chicken Parmesan, really most anything and everything, because its rich and deep flavor stands alone, a sauce so good you want to soak up every last bit with bread or your finger, depending on decorum. Now, in this day of nots, I didn’t have the luxury of time or ingredients to make the red sauce of my dreams a reality but I did have a pressure cooker and a can of San Marzano tomatoes, the gold standard, the Bentley of the tomato world.
A good red sauce often has a meat component, such as fatback or salt pork to give it a deeper flavor, but I would need a substitute. Enter: Genoa salami. We sometimes frequent a wholesale store and my partner buys a bulk pack of salami “for sandwiches” but he often forgets to pack a lunch, and so there we sit with lots of salami. Salami lasts quite awhile in the fridge and it makes an easy and flavorful addition to scrambled eggs, paninis, vegetables, and pasta (I should know because I’m always trying to use our seemingly infinite supply). And so I sliced up salami and threw it in with the tomatoes. The result: the salami gave the sauce a rich taste without making it taste like a salami sauce, which might not be half bad, but the goal was to enhance the tomatoes and achieve a deep flavor with few ingredients and little time.
Funny how less than six months ago I never used my pressure cooker and now it’s my trusty go-to gadget for quick cooking. It’s a lifesaver for last-minute meals and is just plain awesome for cooking meat and beans or lentils. So I pulled out the pressure cooker in the hopes of creating an all-day simmer red sauce in ten minutes. Yup, ten minutes, and it worked!
The sauce is a deep red color and is loaded with flavor. It’s the best thing since sliced bread: a homemade, convenient, budget-friendly red sauce that tastes better than anything you can buy in the store, and it’s made in about the time it takes to heat up a ready-made sauce. I mixed the sauce into spaghetti noodles for a quick and delectable meal. But the sauce would also work as a red sauce for chicken Parmesan or baked ziti. After I finished my pasta, I swooped my finger into the remnants of sauce because decorum is out the door with a sauce this good.