Vodka, which is virtually odourless, works wonders for the flavour of tomatoes – much like in the famous cocktail after which the sauce is named. The secret is to boil away all the alcohol so that only the magic remains.
1 Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pot and sauté the onions slowly until glossy and just starting to brown. Stir in the garlic and sauté for another minute. Pour in the vodka and cook gently until almost all the liquid has reduced.
2 Add the tomatoes and crush with a potato masher. Rinse the tins out with half a cup of water and add this to the pot. Cook gently for 20 minutes; season with the celery salt and pepper. Purée with a hand blender. I enjoy the sauce just like that but if you feel indulgent, add 125–250ml cream and cook for a few more minutes for a smooth and luxurious treat. Serve with your favourite pasta, hard cheese and basil. This sauce is also delicious with gnocchi and ravioli; or get creative and pour the sauce over steamed vegetables and top with melted cheese.