If you’re going to have a nice homemade pasta dinner like spaghetti or penne, opening a jar of sauce just doesn’t cut it. And I got tired of the old canned tomato sauce + tomato paste + seasonings as well, so I kept my eye out for something different. I ended up recording an old episode of Good Eats, and used that for the inspiration for my super awesome (if I do say so myself) tomato sauce.
2 28-ounce cans of whole tomatoes
1 tbsp minced garlic (or you can crush and mince 3-4 fresh cloves)
plenty of Italian seasonings (I use about a tablespoon each of oregano and basil, and rosemary if it’s not dried and twig-like)
1 tbsp sugar
Drain the juice out of the tomato cans into a saucepan and start it on medium heat. Stir in the seasonings (except garlic). Let it come to a very soft boil, just bubbling a little, stirring every couple minutes, while you do the other stuff.
Cut the stems out of the tomatoes and de-seed them, catching the juice that comes out (work over a bowl). Strain this juice into the juice that’s already cooking; add the sugar to the saucepan.
Spread the stemless seedless tomatoes into a 9×13 baking dish; add the garlic; broil under broiler set on low for 15-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Don’t let the tomatoes get charred.
By the time the tomatoes are done broiling, maybe before, the juice in the saucepan will have reduced and thickened some. Coarsely chop the broiled tomatoes and add to the sauce. If it hasn’t thickened and reduced to about half its original value, cook a few minutes more till it does.
That’s it. grind some fresh black pepper into it and it’s ready to spoon over your pasta.
- Spicy: add a couple teaspoons of red pepper flakes.
- Smooth: this is pretty chunky (depending on how much you chop up the broiled tomatoes). For a sauce that’s smoother, you can blend it somewhat. I suppose you can put it in a blender and pulse it a few times, or Alton Brown mentions going after it with a stick blender. I haven’t tried either, so you’re on your own there.
Tips & Gotchas:
De-seed the tomatoes as much as is reasonable. It can take a long time if you’re too diligent. You don’t have to get them all, but try to get most of them out — Alton Brown says the seeds make the sauce bitter, but I can’t confirm this.
Make sure you don’t char the tomatoes. Charred tomatoes are great for salsa, but not for pasta sauce.
No salt. It’s a common thought that people, especially Americans, over-salt everything. This sauce doesn’t need it, especially if you used generously-salted water to cook your pasta like you should.