Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Pasta Sauce

A few years ago, I found an ad for Del Monte tomatoes in a magazine. In the sidebar there was a recipe for a basic tomato sauce. It has been my go-to sauce since then because it's so incredibly easy. I have had to adapt it because seasoned canned tomatoes are not available here. You could use fresh tomatoes, but I really like the richer flavor of canned tomatoes.

Basic Pasta Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon oil
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can peeled, whole tomatoes
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat the oil in a non-reactive saucepan. Add the onion and saute until it becomes translucent. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute.
  2. Pour in the canned tomatoes, tomato paste, and water. Use a potato masher or wooden spoon to break up the tomatoes (or just squish them in your hands first). Stir until the tomato paste is evenly distributed.
  3. Add the dried herbs. If you are using fresh herbs, do not add them until the end. Bring the liquid to a boil, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Taste the sauce and add salt/pepper accordingly. If the sauce is missing the sweetness of jarred sauces, add a little sugar. If the sauce seems to acidic, add one or two pinches of baking soda. Do this slowly though because once you lose the acidity of the tomato, you can't really recreate it. 
I find that step 4 is different for every batch of sauce because the tomatoes in the can are different every time. No, this sauce does not rival Western jarred sauces, but it's economical, tasty, and almost as fast as pouring sauce from a jar. For an easy meatless weeknight meal paired with pasta, garlic bread, and a sprinkling from the cheese stash, I can't beat it.

Note: When I lived in India, you could not find tomato paste or canned tomatoes. If that is still the case, you could substitute a few boxes of tomato puree or a box of puree and fresh tomatoes.

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