There are about as many versions of tomato sauce as there are cooks in the world. The Italian-American heritage of one of our test-kitchen team members informed the development of this recipe, leading us to a version of her family's favorite tomato sauce. A variety of canned tomatoes adds richness. A long simmer helps the flavors meld and results in a sauce that is perfect on pasta or nestled around chicken cutlets or meatballs.
Combine the olive oil and garlic cloves in a large saucepan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is soft and golden brown, about 6 minutes (do not let the garlic burn). Once the cloves are nicely browned remove them from the pot with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Add the onion to the garlic-infused oil and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Crush the can of San Marzano tomatoes into the pot with your hands, then fill the can with water and pour it into the sauce. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, granulated garlic, onion powder and crushed red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper.
Finely chop the reserved browned garlic cloves and add to the sauce.
Stir in the Parmesan rind, if using, and the basil sprig. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until it has deepened in color and reduced slightly, about 1 hour 30 minutes (if the sauce begins to scorch, lower the heat). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Discard the Parmesan rind and basil before serving.
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