Frankly, we’re surprised by the number of people we meet who cook at home, yet have never made pasta sauce from scratch.
A basic pasta sauce couldn’t be easier. All you need is a lidded sauce pan and a wooden or silicone spoon. The ingredients are found in the kitchen of every person who cooks: a box of strained tomatoes (like Pomi; we spend extra for the superior flavor of San Marzano tomatoes), olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.
Most recipes recommend strained tomatoes (purée); but you can use chopped tomatoes for a chunky sauce, or purée them in your food processor.
The only thing you may need to pick up is fresh basil and optional fresh parsley; but you can always fall back on oregano from your spice shelf.
You can get more elaborate with subsequent batches, adding browned, chopped sausage or chopped meat; sautéed onions, mushrooms and/or bell peppers; chopped artichokes or sundried tomatoes.
And then, let your creative sauces flow, adding whatever appeals to you to the basic pasta sauce. Anchovy paste? Blue cheese? Chipotles or jalapeños? Cream? Currants and slivered almonds with cardamom or curry? Lemon or orange zest? Pistachio nuts? Truffle oil (added at the end, not as cooking oil)? Vodka or tequila (stir in at the end)?
The sky’s the limit. And as an extra piece of heaven, your homemade sauce won’t contain preservatives, added sugar or high fructose corn syrup—the sweeteners added to compensate for inferior tomatoes. Premium ripe tomatoes have plenty of natural sugars and require no added refined sugar.
Use your homemade sauce on pasta, pizza, chicken or eggplant parmesan, grilled fish or seafood, meatball sandwiches, omelets, polenta and steamed veggies.
Make a triple batch and freeze it in portion-sized containers so you can microwave-defrost it in minutes or bring it as a last-minute gift.
But the goal is to make that first batch. Once you do, you’ll never go back to relying on supermarket pasta sauce.
Love pasta? Check out the recipes and tips in our Pasta Section.
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