Spicy Oil Tomato Sauce. To Bring the Heat.

I apologize for the delay.  Since we last spoke Boston has suffered three more snowstorms and Valentine’s Day.  We also have some prior business to attend to. I am lucky to say my pathology reports came back: I do not have cancer.  So while winter remains in a perpetual standstill, I no longer need to be. 

I originally thought I might discuss some things I learned during this ambiguity, but the vibe around Boston has not exactly been uplifting.  And mentally I cannot drag anything weighty through the snowdrifts.  

So I am going to discuss tomato sauce. 

My boyfriend, Brett, and I were snowed in—yet again—two weeks ago.  Since he is a good human who loves to cook meaty, spicy stews we did the most romantic thing imaginable. 

We went to a beer tasting for Valentine’s Day.  Bought a few growlettes, including one named Your Possible Pasts. Decided to spend the next 48-hours in my one-bedroom North End apartment.  Cooked and consumed a pound and a half of meat. And did not kill each other.

Instead, we made a velvety stew of spicy peppers and pork shoulder.  Which was delicious. But I am not here to talk about melty pig today.  If you live anywhere other than Southern California, you might be up for something a little less taxing at the moment. And since we are supposed to get more snow on Sunday, might as well keep things simple and have hot pasta for dinner. 

I promised I would not reveal the origins of this recipe.  Suffice to say it came from a friend of a friend of a friend who has a very successful restaurant. I’ve doubled the tomatoes and halved the garlic and oil, among a few other tweaks. So it is likely this person who shall remain nameless would no longer even recognize it. No matter, a promise is a promise.

It has become my go-to sauce recipe.  It doesn’t require hours of prep, nor does it disappoint.  Ever. It’s one of those priceless things you happen upon, that you don’t know how you ever lived without.

Kind of like finding someone who can tolerate you for 48-hours in a snowstorm.

Spicy Oil Tomato Sauce


2-28 ounce cans of whole peeled plum tomatoes
¼ cup canola oil
3 to 4 small dried chiles (preferably chile de Arbol or Thai chile), minced
2 small dried chiles, whole
3 to 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 scant tbsp honey
kosher salt, to taste


In a food processor, puree the plum tomatoes until smooth.  Heat a large saucepot on medium; add the canola oil and minced chilies. Cook until the peppers start to smell fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Add the garlic and sauté another minute, taking care not to let the slices burn.

Add the pureed tomatoes and remaining whole chiles; stir in 2 tablespoons olive oil and the honey.  Add a few pinches of salt.  Cook on medium heat until the sauce comes together and thickens slightly, about 20 to 30 minutes; turn the heat down if it starts to wildly splatter.  Stir in another 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Taste and add additional salt, as needed.

Makes about two quarts

-This is a spicy sauce. Reduce the amount of chiles if you are sensitive to heat.

-I prefer Muir Glen tomatoes and choose to puree them because I feel it makes a better sauce.