Pour the olive oil in a large pot set over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft and translucent (lower the heat if the onion starts to brown—you want to keep it soft and pale). Add the garlic and stir for about 1 minute, until fragrant. Pour the cans of tomatoes one at a time, crushing the whole tomatoes with a wooden spoon as you go. Stir well, then bring the sauce to a simmer. Lower the heat to the minimum and let the sauce simmer uncovered for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the tomatoes have broken down and the sauce looks rich and thick.
Finely chop the basil. Stir the basil (or the basil pesto, if that’s what you’re using) into the sauce. Season with 2 tsp (10 ml) kosher salt, a turn or two of black pepper, and 1 tsp (5 ml) cane sugar. Stir well, then taste the sauce. It should be gently seasoned, but not bland, and bright, but not overly acidic. Adjust the salt and sugar levels to your liking, keeping in mind that if you plan on freezing the sauce, you will need to season it again after defrosting.
If desired, use a stick blender to smooth the sauce. Let the sauce cool completely in the uncovered pot. Portion into airtight containers, then refrigerate until completely cold. The sauce will keep refrigerated for about a week.
For long term storage, transfer the sauce containers to the freezer. The sauce will keep, frozen, for months. To defrost, leave overnight in the fridge or to room temperature for a couple of hours.
Recipe Credit: Marie Asselin
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