When you don’t know what to make for dinner, pasta is always a good solution. But don’t you dare open that jar of pasta sauce with all of its corn syrup and artificial ingredients that tastes more like sugar than anything. In just a little more time, you can make a really tasty pasta sauce from scratch. This recipe makes enough for 2 plus leftovers. Make double and freeze some for next time, why don’t you?
Time to make: 20 minutes – 1 hour
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ½ medium onion, minced (optional)
- 1 14-ounce can diced or crushed tomatoes
- 1 tbsp. tomato paste (optional)
- ¼ cup red wine (optional)
- Salt, pepper, other seasonings to taste
Heat the oil over medium-low. Saute the garlic and and onion until golden. You can add other aromatics at this point, like mushrooms, carrots, celery, peppers or chiles, if you like.
Add the tomatoes. I strongly recommend organic canned tomatoes — they taste tons better because there is less salt and other additives, and the tomatoes they started from were better to begin with. One product I’ve grown really fond of lately is crushed organic tomatoes in a tall glass jar (I don’t remember the brand). It doesn’t have the canned taste, and you can use as much as you need and refrigerate the rest — handy!
If you want a thicker sauce, stir in tomato paste. What do you do with that leftover tomato paste? Spoon it out on wax paper by the tablespoon and freeze. Once it’s frozen, store it in freezer bags, and you’ll have pre-measured tomato paste whenever you need it. I’m also seeing tomato paste in a glass jar now, which lets you store leftovers in the refrigerator.
If you’re feeling a little ooh-la-la, add the wine and drink the rest of the bottle with dinner — otherwise, skip it. Season — an Italian dried herb mix comes in handy right about now.
Raise the heat to medium and simmer until it starts to look “saucy,” about 10 minutes (long enough to cook the pasta) or up to 45 minutes, if you so choose. Taste the sauce frequently while it’s cooking. If it tastes too acidic, stir in a little sugar. Leave it chunky or puree if you want and serve over pasta.
Of course, tomato sauce has a lot more uses than just for pasta. Now that you’ve got the basic formula down, you can whip up some tomato sauce whenever you might need it, such as when you’re making lasagne or meatball sandwiches.
Update: If you have a lot of fresh tomatoes on hand, you can also make this sauce with fresh tomatoes for immediate eating or freezing, in order to preserve your tomatoes after the growing season. About 16 roma tomatoes will make about 1 cup of sauce. The tomatoes should be peeled and chopped before cooking. I usually eliminate the onion, tomato paste and wine, especially if I’m freezing the sauce, as I can add more flavors during reheating — but the garlic is essential. Fresh tomatoes usually require only 10 minutes of cooking to break down into a thick sauce.