This is where it all starts. A large pot of tomatoes simmering with herbs and onions on the stovetop is perhaps the iconic image of Italian cooking.
For this recipe, don’t even try to use fresh tomatoes unless you can find very fresh, in-season tomatoes. Using bland winter tomatoes will leave you with a lackluster sauce. If you’re in doubt, just use good canned tomatoes. They work really well. If you do find yourself with perfect, fresh tomatoes, see "Working with Fresh Tomatoes" at right for advice on preparing them for your sauce.