My Sauce is Comfort Food


I learned to make sauce from my mother, who learned from her mother, two women of Italian descent who knew how to cook without looking in a book.

We’d have sauce at least twice a week growing up: spaghetti and meatballs, usually, often with garlicky braciole rolled with twine and simmered right in the pot. A variation used penne or rigatoni instead of spaghetti. A special occasion called for lasagna.

Sauce wasn’t just comfort food, it was a mainstay menu item, on good days and bad days, weeknights or weekends. When we learned my mother was dying, we had sauce that night, my father and my siblings and I defrosting a supply my mother had made and frozen, preparing a meal in efficient silence, the familiar sustenance helping us navigate our long journey of grief and pain.

These days, I make sauce for my own family. I always make meatballs to go along with it. I make sauce when someone I love is in need. Last week, when making sauce for friends who’d experience a terrible loss, I had my son by my side performing the steps. Now he can make sauce, too, a skill that will come in handy when he moves into his first apartment in a few months. Sauce = Home.

My recipe uses meat, but for a vegetarian version you can sautee onions and peppers instead of the pork, and use that for the base.


  • One clove garlic chopped
  • One Italian sausage link removed from the casing or a piece of pork or a pork chop with some fat on it
  • Three 28 oz cans of tomato puree
  • One 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • One large can of tomato paste
  • Large bunch of parsley chopped (about one cup)
  • One tsp of dried basil and one of oregano, or other herbs to taste
  • One tsp sugar
  • A few splashes of red wine
  • Salt and pepper


  • Fry the pork in a little oil and add the garlic; drain the fat when pork is cooked
  • Add all the tomato products and rinse out the cans with hot water, adding about two large cans worth to the sauce
  • Bring to boil, then reduce to a low simmer and cook, partially covered, for at least one hour or up to two hours, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking
  • Prepare the pasta of your choice or use the sauce in eggplant or chicken parmigiana, lasagna, or any other recipe that calls for tomato sauce
  • Eat and be comforted
By David Klein

David Klein

Published novelist, creative writer, journalist, avid reader, discriminating screen watcher.


Subscribe to this Blog

Enter your email address to receive notifications of new posts by email.

Get in touch