Your Italian Mom’s Secret Pasta Sauce Recipe

Step 1: Call your mom and ask for her pasta sauce recipe.

Set aside five to forty-five minutes for this step, as she’ll likely complain about the weather, your dad, and someone who wronged her in Italy in 1961 before moving on to the recipe. When you say, “I have to go, can you give me the recipe please?” she’ll say, “See, you never have time for me,” and then she’ll spend another hour reminding you that she’s a good mother.

2nd step: Gather the ingredients.

  • A 28-ounce can of whole San Marzano tomatoes that your mother slipped into your luggage on your last visit

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil from a large box of oil your mother slipped into your luggage on your last visit

  • 7 peeled and minced garlic cloves that your mum slipped into your luggage during your last visit

  • 1 large sprig of fresh basil from the basil plant that your mom slipped into your luggage during your last visit (unpacking all your clothes to wash them, again)

  • 1 teaspoon of salt

  • 1 life of guilt and shame

Step 3: Heat oil in large skillet over low heat; add garlic and sauté until tender, like the tuft of hair on your upper lip that you’ve had laser removed multiple times but keeps growing back because you can’t erase your legacy.

Step 4: Stir in tomatoes, basil and salt. Mash the tomatoes with a spoon, like your mom smashed your teenage dreams of having friends sitting on a plastic-free couch. Let simmer, stirring occasionally. Let the sauce cook for fifteen to twenty minutes, using that time to maniacally clean your kitchen, just like your mother maniacally cleaned the kitchen while the rest of the family enjoyed Christmas dinner. Reconnect to the trauma of yelling, “Mom, please sit down and eat!” and his response: “What, you think the dishwasher is just going to clean itself?”

When you are done wiping the counter, be sure to let your partner/kids/roommates/dog/houseplants know repeatedly that you not only cooked but also cleaned today, until let them praise your martyrdom. Stash this washcloth in your dressing gown pocket, because you will surely need it soon.

Step 5: Pour the sauce over the pasta your mother slipped into your luggage during your last visit. Before serving, take a picture and text it to your mom with the pasta emoji, Italian flag emoji and heart-eyes emoji. We look forward to his approval.

Step 6: Answer your mother’s phone call asking you how to open a photo text – again. Please allow extra time for this step, as your mother will most likely stop listening to your instructions and start talking about her cousin with the ugly husband who had the nerve to only give your niece a hundred dollars for her first communion when your mother gave his girl one hundred and fifty dollars.

Step 7: Once your mom finally opens the photo, allow her to critique the dish. (Examples: “the pasta looks overcooked”, “the pasta doesn’t look cooked enough”, “that’s too much pasta, you’ll get fat”, “that’s not enough pasta , you’re going to get too skinny” and “you didn’t clean the counter well enough”.) Following her thorough critique, she will give you one single compliment on your kitchen which she will transform another in a compliment on his cooking.

Step 8: Take a bite of your pasta, which is now cold because you spent a lot of time on the phone with your mom and then with your brother talking about your mom.

Step 9: Order Thai food. ♦

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