Top Chef All-Star winner Richard Blais shares his go-to dinner recipe: homemade tomato sauce, plus his family's favorite Latin-inspired dishes.

By Jonna Gallo Weppler

Even a Culinary Institute of America grad who cooked his way to victory on Top Chef All-Stars sometimes struggles with the what's-for-dinner question. "The easy way out is just to pretend I'm Italian," says Richard, an Atlanta-based restaurant owner and father of two. "I always keep a quart of this classic tomato sauce in the fridge. It's great to have handy on a hectic weeknight." Mangia!

Richard Blais' Tomato Sauce


3 tbsp olive oil

1 large yellow onion, minced

8 cloves garlic, minced

2 28 oz cans tomatoes in juice (such as San Marzano)

1 4-inch piece Parmesan cheese rind

1/4 cup finely diced prosciutto, prosciutto rind, dried sausage or salami (optional)

4 tsp dried oregano

Kosher salt and freshly

ground black pepper, to taste

18 to 20 fresh basil leaves

  • Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, break up coarsely with a potato masher, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour.
  • If tomatoes are still chunky, mash again. Add cheese rind, diced meats (if using) and oregano and cook until very thick, about 30 minutes more. Season sauce with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
  • Transfer sauce, including Parmesan rind, to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months. (Remove cheese rind and garnish with basil leaves before serving.)

Originally published in the March 2013 issue of Family Circle magazine.