Learning to make tomato sauce is challenging. Don’t get me wrong—this recipe is quite simple as promised. But there are so many ways of making a tomato sauce, so many good ways, that it’s easy to get confused. The reality is it takes time and practice to get to a point where you feel you own the sauce you are making. The upshot is that you get to eat your way to learning and make everyone around you very happy in the meantime.Hence, as someone who has been studying tomato sauce religiously from the Italians for the last 15 years and as someone who would like to see you progress in a lot less time, here is my tomato sauce.First, I will dispel the secrets of this particular sauce. As you will see, there are not many ingredients. This sauce is the opposite of Emeril Lagasse’s expression: “BAM!” There are no explosions of flavor here. This sauce is about harmony and about letting the garlic and whole basil leaves gently infuse their flavors into the tomatoes. The carrots are not to be eaten inside of the sauce, but are used rather to add sweetness to the tomatoes naturally, without sugar. They also lend a mildly earthy flavor.Lastly, a good tomato sauce cannot be made without good tomatoes. I like canned tomatoes for certain sauces because they are just as good in the winter as they are in the summer—unlike fresh tomatoes, which are only good in summer—and lend themselves to a richer sauce with very little work.My tips for choosing the best canned tomatoes:• Always read the ingredients on the label. If there is oregano or garlic or other spices in there, those canned flavors are going into your sauce and it will not taste like Italy. It will taste like the cheap American spaghetti sauce.• Whole peeled tomatoes will have better flavor than those that are already diced. The cutting process ruins them somehow. I pulse them in my Vitamix or Cuisinart very briefly, leaving the puree the slightest bit chunky, just before I throw it into the hot pan.• Choose Italian plum tomatoes when possible. The best are San Marzano.Tomato and Basil Sauce RecipeIngredients:Extra Virgin Olive Oil, about 1/4 cup3 large cloves garlic, peeled and smashed firmly with the side of a knifeTiny dash of red pepper flakes1 28-ounce can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes (or Carmelina Italian Peeled Tomatoes, Whole Foods 365 Organic Whole Peeled Tomatoes, or Organic Muir Glenn Whole Peeled Plum Tomatoes)10-15 fresh basil leaves1 carrot, cut in half and then each half cut in quarters vertically, totaling 8 matchstick pieces—no need to peel it if organic…OR a handful of baby carrotsKosher salt, about 1- 1½ teaspoonDirections:Place a heavy skillet over a medium flame for a couple minutes. In the meantime, in a food processor or blender briefly pulse the tomatoes and their juices into a pulp without over-processing. You can also squeeze tomatoes by hand, but be careful of the splatterings! Add olive oil to the hot skillet, followed by garlic, red pepper flakes and carrots. Watch as the bubbles emanate from garlic; that is the garlic infusing its flavor into the oil. Don’t let the garlic burn or even brown, you want it to stay translucent. After several minutes, pour in the tomato pure. You will see olive oil coming up on the sides of the tomatoes;this is ok, the olive oil helps to transform the flavor of the tomato. Add a good sprinkling of salt, about 1 teaspoon, and a large handful of basil leaves. I throw them in with the stems. Stir occasionally. It will be done in 20-25 minutes, when it is no longer watery and the sauce has thickened. Test for salt and add more if necessary. If you aren’t sure if there is enough salt, there isn’t. Add more. Remove the carrots and use them as a side dish for another meal, if you like.