Tomato sauce from a jar is one of the great frauds worked on the American people. You can make your own in less than the time it takes to boil and cook pasta. And yours will be better, healthier and (usually) cheaper than what you can buy in the store.
Most commercial tomato sauces are not very good and some of the better ones are unreasonably expensive. On a recent trip to the supermarket, I saw a jar selling for more than $10. I think that’s unreasonable for a sauce best made from three or four household ingredients.
Meanwhile, a good homemade tomato sauce is one of life’s simple pleasures. Juicy tomatoes, fresh sliced garlic, pasta cooked just right, and the best extra virgin olive oil. How can you go wrong?
So try this simple recipe. Once you start making it yourself, you’ll never buy tomato sauce again.
Homemade Tomato Sauce
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
6 garlic cloves, sliced
A good pinch red chili flakes (optional)
1. Boil water, salt it, it and add your favorite pasta. Cook the pasta until it is about one minute short of al dente. It will finish cooking in the sauce.
2. Meanwhile, empty the tomatoes and their juices into a bowl. Reach in with clean hands or a spoon and tear the tomatoes into chunks.
3. Heat the olive oil in a saute pan large enough to hold the pasta and the sauce. Add the garlic and chili flakes (if using) and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and their juices and season to taste. Bring the sauce to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer until the pasta is ready to be added. While cooking, use a spoon to break up any tomato pieces that seem too large.
4. Add the pasta to the sauce and toss for a minute until the pasta is done.
Serve it with a nice glass of red wine, and pretend you are in Italy.
For more ideas, try our other weeknight pasta dishes: Pasta with Mushrooms and Marsala and Ravioli with Butter and Sage.
This recipe is also a great starter for any tomato-based pasta sauce. Like this one with some ground pork (1/2 pound), 1 medium shallot, and 1/2 cup of peas. Add the pork and shallots when you add the garlic, and the peas when the sauce is simmering. Just one of the endless combinations.