We add the onions, peeled but not chopped, and sauté on medium-low heat until they start to brown on the outside. This takes about 5 minutes.
Then we spoon in the tomato paste, breaking it up into the oil. Using a garlic press, we put in the unpeeled cloves and press into the pot. We cook it for 30 seconds. Next, we add the water, measuring by filling the tomato paste can with cold water twice. We also pour the tomato liquid from the can of tomatoes into the Dutch oven. Then we use our immersion blender to purée the tomatoes right in the can and add these to the pot.
We add the hot pepper flakes, dried basil, fresh parsley stems, salt & pepper, and bay leaf. We then simmer the sauce for about 30 minutes, partially covered, over medium low heat.
We stir in the fresh parsley at the last minute and serve this over pasta for a delicious dinner.