This sauce is my own version of an Italian classic. I make it with fresh, organic tomatoes and herbs from our garden and some "secret" ingredients from the grocery store. They're a secret because my husband can't stand them! He loves this sauce, but he has no idea that it is made with anchovies, capers and kalamata olives, ha ha! It is some awesome sauce! (Prep time is approximate.)
*NOTE: If locally grown, non-greenhouse tomatoes are not available, canned san marzano tomatoes (Italian plum tomatoes) may be substituted for fresh. Also, tomato varieties vary on levels of sweet and tart, so taste and adjust the amount of sugar and/or balsamic vinegar used.
Gather and prep all ingredients. (To prep fresh tomatoes, wash tomatoes; cut a small "X" in the skin at the blossom end; 1/2 fill a large saucepan with water; place on high heat; when water begins to boil, add several tomatoes; return to boil; remove tomatoes, after 30 seconds, to an extra-large bowl of ice water. Repeat with remainder of tomatoes. Gather 2 large bowls, a heavy-duty spoon, a paring knife and a wire mesh strainer. Place strainer over one of the bowls. Holding a tomato over the strainer, use knife to remove core; discard core; peel tomato (skin should slip off easily) and place skin in strainer; cut tomato into quarters and use clean fingers to remove all seeds into the strainer; place prepared tomatoes in the second bowl. Repeat with remaining tomatoes. Use heavy-duty spoon to smash skins and seeds in strainer to release all their juice. Discard skins and seeds. Add remaining juice to bowl with tomatoes.
For chunky sauce (preferred,) coarse chop tomatoes either by hand with a chef's knife, with kitchen shears in the bowl or by pulsing in a food processor or blender. If smoother sauce is preferred, purée tomatoes in blender or food processor.
Pour tomatoes and all remaining ingredients into a 5-7 quart sauce pot or Dutch oven.
Bring to boil over high heat, stirring feequently; reduce heat to low; simmer uncovered, stirring frequently, for 1 1/2 hours. Sauce should have reduced by more than half.
Remove bay leaves from sauce.
Serve over pasta, chicken etc... Use as you would use any marinara or spaghetti sauce.