Mrs. Minutelli's Tomato Sauce Recipe + Story

Dearest Michael,

Living in a small community in Bristol, Rhode Island brought us to lots of small town community type outings.

This is where I learned how to make homemade Italian Sauce. Every year our town organized bus trips to New York City at Christmas time. We went on this one time with a few families and Mrs. Minutelli, one of the grandparents of some dear friends went along too.

These friendships, though we didn’t know it at the time are what I would come to refer to as ‘temporary’ friendships.
By proxy, they are fun and convenient and part of the growing up process both for you and for us as parents. Couples parties where we wanted to include our children forced a connection and friendships formed during this time.

As all of the kids got older, these friendships faded simply because of the natural evolution of life changes. This is not a bad thing, just a typical ebb and flow in the world we call life.

I cherish the memories of this and I have hundreds of pictures reminding us of all of these wonderful times.

Mrs. Minutelli’s Tomato Sauce, though, is one of my favorite memories. I sat next to her on that bus ride to or from, NYC I can’t remember now and typical of many conversations I have with women, we started talking recipes.

I was still a young mother, I think you were about eight, and I loved to cook and experiment, but wasn’t nearly as casual and knowledgeable as I am now about throwing sauces together. It was here on this bus ride to New York, Mrs. M. gave me her recipe for sauce and I have never turned back.

She was very specific as to the use of carrots as she told me that lots of sauce recipes call for sugar and that carrots were a far better ingredient than sugar. I can still hear her voice explaining the simplicity of its ingredients with the enthusiasm of a seasoned cook.

She wrote it out for me later and gave it to me on an index card, but I can’t seem to locate it. I don’t really need it other than for the memory though because it is embedded in my brain and it is one of my all time favorite go to recipes I make as soon as the New England air cools.
I hope you are never tempted by the ease of a jar, there is something about homemade sauce simmering on a stove that comforts and cares and this is the recipe thanks to Mrs. Minutelli.
I love you. Love Mom.

Because I make some product recommendations in my blogs, I may get a small commission as an affiliate, in this case Amazon. Anything I recommend I personally use and am trying to make it easier to shop for items you may not have or need to replace.

Mrs. Minutelli's Tomato Sauce Recipe

  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 45 mins
  • Total: 65 mins
  • Servings: 4-6


  • 5-6 cloves of garlic peeled
  • 2-3 carrots
  • 2-3 stalks celery
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/2 bunch of fresh basil leaves
  • Good Olive Oil, (I have really gotten used to Olive Oil from Portugal)
  • Crushed red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
  • Oregano, salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 or 2 Bay leaves
  • 2–3 28 oz cans of crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup parm cheese
  • A great pot that makes you joyful
  • Wooden spoons that feel good to stir with
  • A great Cuisinart or a great knife for some hardy chopping, whatever speaks to your cooking joy.
tomato sauce steaming in a large pot on the stove


1. In a food processor, chop the first five ingredients together somewhat fine.

2. Heat olive oil in a pan that makes you happy on medium heat. Add garlic, carrots, celery, onion and basil mixture and sauté until fragrant and soft tender. Stir often (these wooden spoons by OXO are so bad ass, I buy them for everyone now).Do not let it brown or golden. Add salt and pepper, crushed pepper and oregano.

3. Once the mixture is soft, add the crushed tomatoes and mix well. Add the bay leaves.

4. Bring to an easy and brief boil. Stirring ocassionally (so it doesn't bubble over making a red sauce mess).

Turn down to low and simmer uncovered for at least thirty minutes. Add the cheese the last 5 minutes or so. You can cover it once you turn it off and let it sit on the stove for the day. I always let it sit for the day because I like to get this ready in the morning.

SIDE NOTE: This will become the base for meatballs, bolognese, lasagna and any other recipe that calls for red sauce.

Trust your vibe. Cooking is about experimenting with not only ingredients and timing but also quantity and portions.

This can be doubled or tripled for the freezer for later too or to give to a neighbor or friend.

I hope the first time you make this, you will smile with the memories of my kitchen and the thoughts of your childhood adventures.

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