This sauce might make your Italian grandmother cry. It’s effortless, and it has no heartwarming story. Being me, though, with absolutely zero drops of Italian blood pulsing through my veins and family members who think that pasta is one of those meals that you prepare when there is nothing else in the fridge, I’m not going to bother to console the weeping grandma. She needs to get with the times and make delicious tomato sauce that takes about half of an hour to throw together. No simmering for hours here– this is a great weeknight dinner when you want a home-cooked meal but just can’t put in the effort.
Quite frankly, I often find myself in this conundrum, and I almost always would rather eat at home than in a restaurant. I get tired of eating out– by the end of a vacation, I’m craving a home-cooked meal, and I even dislike eating out two days in a row– and I don’t like spending money on food that I can make just as good or better at home. On nights when the struggle is real, it’s nice to have some dependable but easy recipes on which to fall back. For me, this tomato sauce and the ultimate struggle are reason enough to keep a can of tomatoes and a box of spaghetti in the pantry. They create a tasty, enjoyable meal that will help to put you at ease.
This sauce is exponentially better than jarred sauce, and if I haven’t emphasized it enough, the effort that you put in is minimal. I look forward to the simplicity of this recipe when I just can’t do anything else, but of course there’s no need to save it only for hectic and/or tired nights. Regardless of a busy or calm schedule, it’s handy to keep up your sleeve.
Quick tomato sauce
from America’s Test Kitchen 10th Anniversary Best Recipes
makes about 3 cups of sauce, enough for about 1.5 pounds of pasta and 6 servings
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ of a small yellow onion, grated on the large holes of a box grater
¼ teaspoon dry oregano
½ teaspoon table salt
2 medium cloves of garlic, minced
1 28 ounce can of whole tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
¼ teaspoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
extra virgin olive oil
1. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the grated onion, oregano and salt, and cook until onion is golden and most of the liquid is evaporated, about 5 to 7 minutes.
2. Add garlic to the saucepan, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
3. Add tomatoes and juice from the can to the pan, crushing the tomatoes in your fist before dropping them in. Break that tomatoes into fairly small pieces with your fingers. Stir in the sugar, turn heat to medium high and bring to a simmer.
4. Reduce heat to medium low and continue to simmer for about 10 minutes, until slightly thickened. Off the heat, stir in basil and a glug of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve a big spoonful over freshly cooked pasta.