Reasons Why You Might Want to Make Tomato Sauce This Week:
- It's delicious, and pasta is a pretty efficient comfort food. It's also versatile and good for more than pasta (read: pizza, stirred into broth to make a soup, smeared on bread, etc.)
- It's easy.
- It's endlessly customizable, meaning you can make a simple 5-ingredient sauce or an overcomplicated, but hugely satisfying sauce with meat, fish, or veggies.
- It freezes well, so future-you can have a few easy dinners ready to go. Double or even triple the recipe below. Just make sure you use a big enough pot!
- It makes the house smell great, which is ideal if you're going to be home for awhile.
We use 5 ingredients for our sauce: olive oil, garlic, onion, tomatoes, and salt, but sometimes we skip the onion, so you can, too! The key is the garlic and, obviously, the tomatoes, which come together to make magic.
Though you can absolutely use fresh tomatoes, we're guessing that right now, you're more likely to have canned on hand.
There are many different varieties of tomatoes on the market. They can be found as whole peeled tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, tomato purée, diced tomatoes, and tomato paste. We prefer the flavor and texture of whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes for most cooked sauces because they are less watery and have a richer flavor.
Whole peeled tomatoes still contain seeds, you will need to cut them in half and squeeze out the seeds. Of course, if you aren't feeling especially particular, you can skip this step. Seeds never hurt anyone. To crush tomatoes, you can simply chop them up with a potato masher as they cook in the sauce or you can crush them in your hands by squeezing them before you add them to a sauce.
If you want the texture a little finer than you would get from simply crushing the tomatoes, you may wish to crush them through a sieve. Set a wire mesh sieve over a bowl, add the drained and seeded tomatoes, and push them through the sieve with your hands or a wooden spoon.
Once your tomatoes are ready to roll, here's what you do (find the recipe here):
- Heat olive oil (any neutral oil will work in a pinch, including vegetable/canola/corn oil) in a medium saucepan. Cook some onion and garlic until soft and fragrant, then add your tomatoes. Season with a pinch of salt.
- Cook until the sauce tastes great, about 30 minutes. If your sauce still tastes a bit like canned tomatoes, let it cook a bit longer. If you want it to be a little thicker, keep cooking.
Yep, it's that easy.
To make the sauce your own, try some of these small changes or additions:
- Add a few anchovy fillets to the cooked onion and garlic. Stir until the fillets have dissolved into the vegetables.
- Brown ground sausage in the pan with the olive oil. Add the onions and garlic to the sausage mixture, and continue from there.
- Sauté zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers, and mushrooms in olive oil, then add the cooked tomato sauce to make an easy primavera.
- Add a big handful of torn basil leaves at the very end of cooking.
- Add dried red pepper flakes for some spice, or you can even blend in pickled hot cherry peppers for a vinegary and spicy kick. Add them when you add the tomatoes.
- Increase the garlic if you love garlic (yes, people love garlic!), and especially if you omit the onion.
Once you've gotten your sauce perfected, maybe you'll want to try some homemade pasta?