Sunday, March 8, 2015

Quick! Sauce

Mmm, pasta. Who doesn't love a big steaming hot bowl of spaghetti and meatballs, tossed in a savory, slightly sweet, and herby tomato sauce? Or a giant slice of lasagna, loaded with ricotta and sausage?

Examples of pasta have been discovered in China dating back some 4,000 years ago, millennia before the Italians are credited with popularizing it. But some suggest the Chinese version is technically a noodle and not pasta. Apparently the two are not the same.

No matter. Whether created by the Italians, or the Chinese, pasta is delicious, and is as much a part of American culture as pizza, hot dogs, or apple pie.

There are as many different sauces as there are pasta shapes. Bolognese, Alfredo, aglio e olio (garlic and oil), the list goes on. But none are as popular, and arguably as delicious, as the classic tomato sauce.

Today I want to convince you to make your own tomato sauce and skip store bought jarred sauce.

The most popular brands of jarred sauce are horrid. They're loaded with sugar and sodium. They taste processed and lack any fresh tomato flavor. There are some good ones, so I don't want to denigrate all jarred sauce. But why buy a jar of sauce when you can make sauce at home in just 10 minutes?

That's right, you can make a delicious tomato sauce at home in just 10 minutes. With only 3 ingredients.

When many Americans think of homemade sauce, they envision an Italian grandmother hovering over the stove for hours, constantly stirring and lovingly tending to a big pot of slowly simmering tomatoes. You can make sauce like that if you want. The slowly simmered 'gravy' as Italians call it, is delicious. But I prefer what's called a 'quick sauce'.

A quick sauce is exactly that. Tomato sauce that you can make in minutes. It's so quick that it'll be ready before the pasta water is boiling. And it's delicious. It's tastes closest to fresh tomatoes, and certainly much more so than jarred sauce or the long cooking Italian gravy, yet it's made with canned tomatoes.

On the subject of canned tomatoes; Most any brand of canned tomatoes are good today. But if you want better tasting tomatoes buy those imported from Italy. And if you want the best, get San Marzano tomatoes. (Look for the D.O.P. seal on the can to be assured they're true San Marzano's).

Quick sauce:

1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a pan on medium
When the pan is hot, add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan
Add the garlic, stirring constantly to prevent burning
After no more than one minute, add tomatoes crushing them with your hand as you add them
Simmer vigorously, further breaking up the tomatoes with a spoon
Stir occasionally for about 10 minutes or until the sauce thickens a bit
Remove from heat
Add salt and pepper to taste
Serve immediately over your favorite pasta

That's it!

If you want to get fancy, toss in some fresh basil just before serving.

After making this sauce, you'll never buy jarred sauce again.

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