I got drawn into the whole "Deceptively Delicious" cooking method when the cookbook came out from Mrs. Seinfield. I have to admit that I haven't cared for too many of the recipes I've found in the book, but the method has changed my thought process as to what I use to sweeten, thicken, and add to a recipe. The best application of this is a basic tomato sauce that I use for everything (spaghetti, lasagna, pizza, etc).
One could start with fresh tomatoes and I'm sure that it would taste wonderful. I don't have that kind of time, and it could be cost prohibitive in the lands of long winters. So I opt for the industrial size cans of tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes. This really is a texture preference. I like the mix of the two. The crushed gives it a fresh taste more like a marinara and a homemade touch. If you prefer a smoother finished sauce like a canned spaghetti sauce, I'd suggest sticking with just the tomato sauce.
In a REALLY large stock pot I pour in the tomatoes. In the spring/summer/fall I'll add fresh herbs from my herb gardens (oregano, rosemary, parsley, & thyme). Winter batches get dried herbs simply as a cost measure.
What I load the sauce with really depends on what I have on hand. Usually I have purees* of carrot, peppers, sweet potatoes, and spinach to add to the tomato. The carrot and sweet potato adds a sweetness. The sweet potatoes add a thickness to the sauce. The spinach is excellent for you and I never make it without it. The peppers are personal preference. I like the flavor of red peppers the best, but will use whatever I have. A bit of ground sausage or turkey works nicely with this.
The balance of the sauce is completely personal preference. I like my sauce a bit on the sweeter side. Therefore I'll add more of the sweet potato and carrot purees. To balance out the sweetness with acid, I add a bit of vinegar. A bit of sugar or honey can be added if you get a bit too much vinegar in there (which never happens to me ;)
Let it simmer for about 1/2 hour to let the flavors meld together. It's a big batch so use some, can/freeze some, or give some away.
Best Estimate on Recipe (really depends on flavor of purees and preferences)
1 lg can (105 oz) Crushed Tomato
1 lg can (105 oz) Tomato Sauce
1 - 1 1/2 c Carrots Puree
1 1/2 c Sweet Potato Puree
3/4 c Spinach Puree
3/4 c Pepper Puree
1/2 c Fresh Parsley, diced
1/4 c Fresh Rosemary, chopped small
1/3 c Fresh Oregano, diced
1 T Fresh Thyme
2 T Garlic, minced
1 sm onion, diced small
2 t Sea Salt
2-3 T White Wine Vinegar
1 t Black Pepper
Sugar or Honey to taste
* To Make a Puree
Steam the veggies until they are soft. Puree in blender or food processor. Add small amount of steaming water to puree until smooth consistency is reached. I measure my purees into usable amounts into snack size ziploc bags or freezer containers to freeze until needed. For spinach, buy a box of frozen diced spinach, thaw and drain water off before blending (much cheaper and easier than fresh without a taste difference).