Here's a quick and easy recipe for tomato sauce. If you've got the ingredients around, it takes 15 minutes.

Puree the tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, and basil. Place in saucepan and simmer on the stove for 3 minutes. Add the honey. Combine the cornstarch and water, stir well, then add to sauce. Stir for 1 minute. Take out 1/4 cup of sauce, mix it with the miso, then throw back in the pot. Stir. It's ready.

Rose's Plain Sauce (she made it with fresh tomatoes and non of the optional ingredients):

(This is a heavily garliced, tomato based pasta sauce, kind of along the marinara line). Only eat this if the people you will be close to are having it too or the garlic breath will prevent any closeness! The garlic is good for a cold too!

Serves 4 - 6 people
can be CHEAP if you don't use expensive extras
LOW FAT if you don't top with a lot of cheese, or use cream, cheese or sausage while cooking
QUICK(less than 1 hour) and very EASY to make
Measurements are approximations, OK to vary to taste
Freezes well, OK to make the sauce ahead of time. If freezing ahead, cook the pasta just before serving

  • 4 - 16 ounce cans of chopped tomatoes (Italian spices in the cans are fine but not salsa) or 8 cups of fresh, ripe tomatoes cut in 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 full head of garlic (10 - 15 cloves or so, finely minced
  • basil - fresh or frozen but not dried, chopped or whole leaves, about 20 medium leaves or 1/4 cup
  • Italian flat leaf parsley - 1/4 cup fresh or frozen but not dried, stems removed and minced
  • salt to taste (maybe less than 1 teaspoon)
  • pepper to taste (we use about 1 Tablespoon but we like it hot)
  • cayenne pepper to taste (this is optional, I use about 3 pinches)
  • sugar - about 1 Tablespoon
  • vegetables (optional) 1 - 2 cups
    options I've tried are: finely chopped carrots, julienne zucchini, sliced or chopped mushroom, broccoli flowerets. These were all good but no vegetables at all is also good
  • extra virgin olive oil - 1/4 cup
  • pasta - 1 pound
  • grated Italian cheese - the best cheese for this is a hard (also called table) Ricotta cheese, if you can't find that you want something tangy and a bit salty
  • Italian Sausage or Shrimp (both optional and I don't like them in it but others do)


  • Get everything ready, open cans, chop everything, spices out, clean shrimp if using, pre boil sausage if using
  • Put water on to boil for pasta, cook pasta according to package instructions at the same time as you make the sauce
  • Heat olive oil to medium high but not smoking temperature.
  • Boil Italian Sausage(if using)in a separate pan, discard the water, then break into pieces and sauté until browned or clean and shell shrimp
  • Sauté vegetables (if using) briefly 1 - 2 minutes
  • Sauté minced garlic briefly, only until tan, not brown.
  • Add tomatoes with liquid from the cans, basil, parsley, salt, peppers, sugar.
  • Bring to a boil
  • Reduce heat and simmer 20"
  • Drain pasta (reserve 1 cup pasta water)
  • Dress pasta with sauce (add reserved water to sauce if it is too thick)
  • Serve with freshly grated hard Ricotta cheese or a substitute
  • Variations:
    If you don't like chunky tomatoes in sauce mash, chop, blend or use the food processor on some or all of the tomatoes before adding to the garlic. This step can also be done after cooking if it won't chop optional vegetables or meats.

    If you want to disguise the vegetables:
    chop them finely before adding. This works well for carrots or mushrooms but not zucchini or broccoli.

    Non vegetarian:
    add shrimp with the tomatoes OR break up the Italian Sausage and fry in olive oil before frying the garlic

    To make a cream based sauce:
    When everything else is done add some heavy cream (1/2 to 1 cup) to the sauce and heat up. It also works well to use non fat half and half. May also add 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese.

    Plain with just garlic, basil, and pepper (and a few pats of butter) ... this sauce can really dress up a frozen lasagna ... to the point of rave reviews.

    Tips on ingredients:

    • Buy or grow basil in the summer and then freeze the leaves whole in zip lock bags.
    • Buy or grow parsley in the summer, mince finely and freeze in zip lock bags.
    • The difference in taste between fresh or frozen and dried basil and parsley is remarkable. Dry is hardly worth using. See freezing fresh herbs.
    • Hard Ricotta cheese grows mold very easily. To prevent this it can be cut into 1 - 2 inch cubes, wrapped individually in tin foil and frozen. Defrost at room temperature for a couple of hours or overnight in the refrigerator. It can sometimes be found at Italian markets but is a seasonal product so it is not always available. This is another good reason to freeze some ahead of time.
    • Italian Sausage can be either "sweet" (has fennel seed in it) or "hot" (has hot pepper flakes in it). For this recipe I've always used "sweet" but since Cayenne Pepper is part of the recipe I'd imagine one could use "hot" and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Sausage spoils very easily. Either use it the day you buy it or freeze it immediately. Boil sausage prior to freezing or frying and discard the greasy water.

    In Baltimore THE PLACE for Italian Groceries is:
    Trinacria Macaroni Works
    open 8:30 to 4:30 Monday to Saturday
    406 N Paca St
    Baltimore, MD 21201-1880

    Let me just say that while I have no problems with "1-hour" tomato sauces I have yet to find one that is as rich and contains the depth of flavor than one that has been slow cooked for several hours. So I present, for those of you who are willing to take the time, the recipe for sauce that has been used by my great-grandmother and beyond (and by me this last weekend, slightly modernized for convenience).

    2 16 oz. cans whole peeled tomatos
    2 carrots
    2 ribs of celery
    1 onion
    5 cloves of garlic
    1 cup of white wine
    1/4 cup of port wine
    1 tablespoon of dried basil
    1 tablespoon dried oregano
    1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    Sugar and/or balsamic vinegar
    Open the cans of tomatos and strain the liquid, put the liquid into a saucepan with the basil, pepper flakes, oregano, 1/4 cup of white wine, 1/8th of a cup of the port and a little salt and pepper, put this under a low flame. Seed the tomatos (seeds make the sauce bitter, this is why whole tomatos are better than chopped or diced), it's not vital to get ALL the seeds, but get out as many as you can. Dice the celery, carrot and onions and place in a large saute pan, sweat this in a little olive oil for a few minnutes then mash the garlic and add it to the sweat. Once the onions are translucent, transfer the mixture into a large stock pot and add the seeded tomatos. Under low heat stir this mixture a while add the remining white and port wines and simmer. The liquid in the saucepan should have reduced a bit, add this to the stock pot and place on very low heat, return to stir it about every half hour. Cook until everything is homogenous, the carrots should be soft, the onions should have practically disentigrated. if it's too watery remove the lid and cook it down, the reduction aids in the concentration of flavors. Once it has reduced, taste it, if it is too sweet add a bit of balsamic vinegar, if it's too acidic, add a touch of sugar, adjust salt and pepper as well. You now have a good "chunky" tomato sauce. If you want a smooth sauce, blast it in a food processor (it'll be too thick for a blender), or run it through a coarse screen. I lixe to process half of it and mix it back in with the chunks creating a "medium chunky" sauce.

    This sauce is good in lasagna, on pizza or pasta, mussels, meatballs... you name it!

    A couple notes: Cooking the sauce for a long time allows the flavors to "marry" it's this process that creates the richness and depth of flavor characteristic of slow cooked sauces, as well the addition of alcohol is also key, tomatoes have flavors that are alcohol soluable and are only released with its introduction into the mix.

    Why Canned Tomatoes?
    OK, allow me to come to my own defense. I have a problem with the tomatoes found in the produce sections in most major supermarkets in the U.S. these tomatoes have been bred for durability and long shelf life, they are usually picked green, gassed into redness and often have a watered down flavor. Canned tomatoes on the other hand are usually picked fresh and processed and canned soon after picking. However, I do often use fresh tomatoes from gardens of friends and family. To prepare the tomatoes simply remove the stems and plunge the tomatoes into boiling water for about 30 seconds, remove them and plunge them into ice water, this will allow you to easily remove the skins. Seed and quarter them, sprinkle them with a bit of salt and place them in a sealed container in the refrigerator for at least a few hours. Then follow the recipie as above.

    To do this in one pot (it just takes a bit longer to cook) just skip placing the liquid into a seperate pot and after sweating the vegetables just throw in all your herbs, spices and tomatoes and wine.

    Tomato Sauce Base in Bulk

    The recipes in this node are excellent interpretations of tomato sauce. Unfortunately I'm a bit too lazy to crush my garden tomatoes, or even puree peeled canned tomatoes. Rather, I've devised a "way" (not even dignified of the name recipe) to make obnoxious amounts of tomato sauce base in record time.

    Everythingian tomato sauce lovers may want to beat me up after tasting this sauce. But for everyday meals this type of sauce can't be beat for convenience and nutrition especially when cooking for a crowd.

    This sauce should freeze for a month or two. One suggestion is to divide sauce into handy serving sizes for quick reheating later. Try not to overcook the sauce now as you may want to let it simmer after defrosting. Remember, the base is just that -- a way to prepare sauce ahead to be reconstituted at a later time. Mellowing is best left to a later meal.

    The following recipe assumes no salt, sugar, or MSG is added either at the factory or to the recipe. I resorted to making sauce base for someone with diabetes who found complete sauces inedible due to high added sugar, sodium or MSG. Therefore the base alone will be exceedingly bland.

    Shopping list
    3 kg/6.6 lbs tomato puree
    230g/8 oz x 3 cans tomato sauce without MSG ("flavorings")
    170g/6 oz x 2 tomato paste (try to get the one that's made of just tomatoes)
    Yield 4.5 to 5 L/1.2 to 1.3 gallons depending on desired thickness, stewing time, etc.
    Seasonings and mix-ins according to imagination
    1. Find stewpot able to accomodate sauce. Divide if necessary

    2. If you want to saute ingredients into the sauce, saute now at the bottom of the pan at medium low heat. Reduce heat when saute is finished to low simmer. Might as well also brown meats at this time if desired. Saute any fresh or diced garlic at this point.

    3. Open puree and dump into pot.

    4. Open sauce cans and dump into pot.

    5. Empty ONE paste into the pot, simmer five minutes, taste. Play with paste ratio -- too much paste can create a bad sauce instaneously. Add more paste when ready.

    6. Add water to desired thickness.

    7. Season at this point and remain at low simmer. WATCH THE POT. Do not seal the pot with the pot lid unless you desire an unfunny interpretation of a pressure cooker. Much like paint pots around volcanoes, this sauce will sputter all over the place. Degreaser should be at hand. Simmer for about 45 minutes or to desired reduction point.

    Possible seasonings include oregano, cumin, cilantro, parsley, and bay leaves. Leftover meats go nicely with this as well as sauteed veggies. I love hot sauce in this; proceed cautiously in this respect. Experiment and be sure to tell me what combinations work best.

    All this is all very well, but the best pasta sauce I've had is according to the ancient poverty stricken peasant recipe we acquired from an Italian medico friend whose family had been, well, poverty stricken peasants for at least the last two thousand years. It can be made while you're cooking the pasta, costs a couple of dollars to make, is tasty and fresh. And authentic, if you like that sort of thing.

    Authentic Hungry Peasant's Pasta Sauce:

    You need: (enough sauce to be a lot for one, generous for two, or enough for three large serves of pasta)

    • two large onions, coarsely chopped
    • two cloves of garlic, finely chopped
    • one tin of peeled, or peeled and chopped tomatoes
    • some dried oregano and grated parmesan are extra bonuses if you like

    Brown the garlic in some olive oil in a small saucepan. Add the onions and cook for a minute or so, but don't let the onions brown. Add the tomatoes, and simmer until the sauce is thick. If you're using whole chopped tomatoes, it might be an idea to poke them a bit with a spoon to break them up a little. The important thing is for the onions to be tender and cooked but still strong tasting. Cutting them in fairly large pieces helps, the sauce should be chunky. Pour the sauce onto pasta, and feel free to add a little dried oregano. (It's perfectly authentic peasant stuff as well, after all it grows like a weed in hot dry gardens.)

    Ludicrously easy, fast and good.

    Such a simple name for a sauce with myriad interpretations - or so it seems. "Tomato Sauce," as used by my friends of Italian descent, but who were born in the United States, who happen also to be in the restaurant business, is merely a start for something else that's gonna be prepared. Whether we're in a condo on vacation, someone's boat, at home or in somebody's joint just hanging around the kitchen or bar talking, when someone important brings you some other wonderful ingredient; be it macaroni from the old country, veal, homemade sausage, a fish, clams, mussels, lobster, or just some good bread; there's one thing that some or all the boys say. "Go make some sauce."

    If one grew up in Brooklyn or some other parts of The Big Apple, tomato sauce is called "gravy." Yeah, it's red; it goes on pasta, but they call it gravy. (They call the brown sauce served with roast beef or turkey or roast chicken gravy, too.) But I digress.

    UPDATE: The wonderful BlackPawn pointed out that this recipe should include a line which reads: "Feeds 60." There are two reasons why I prefer to make sauce in humongous batches like this. The first is that often I need to feed 60 or more, whether it's a catering job or a party. The second is that, if I'm going to the trouble of the process that follows (which involves paying a lot of attention to the sauce, the more, the better) it's efficient to make lots and then freeze it in quart containers for use later on. Tomato sauce is one of the best things to freeze as it lasts 3 months in the freezer (or more) and recovers nicely from the freezing process when reheated via microwave or stove.

    Let's begin with what goes into the pot (of a size sufficient to hold at least three gallons of sauce):

    Lots of olive oil; about a cup — not extra-virgin or nothin' special like that. Just a good grade of amber-colored olive oil. The green-colored stuff's intended for use on fresh mozzarella cheese with tomatoes and basil, and it smokes at a lower temperature. So why waste your money? Pickup a gallon of the stuff and use it for everything, and you may actually reduce the bad cholesterol in your bloodstream.

    Minced (1/8" or slightly smaller) Garlic; as much as you can stand. Two whole bulbs. Garlic should have large cloves, be white (not purple; that's "boiling garlic" and is used for other things). This stuff called "Elephant Garlic" may be convenient to use, but the flavor is somewhat attenuated compared to regular, good old fresh garlic. (Hint: if you break apart a bulb into cloves, use your small (paring) knife to knick off the part that's been stuck to the bottom of the bulb; it's flat. Repeat for each clove. Then take up your biggest cleaver or whatever and whack the bulbs hard (but not so hard you smoosh them). The skins will come right off.) Another hint: the stuff that's already minced and packed in oil, in jars, in the supermarket is pretty good if you just can't stand going through the trouble. And indeed, peeling and mincing garlic is troublesome, and will leave your fingers reeking for a day or so, no matter how often you wash them and no matter what you wash your fingers with.

    Canned tomato sauce and "ground" tomatoes, in equal amounts; about five cans. Now, the standard, restaurant-sized No. 10 can is what we're talking about, 3/4 of a gallon of the finest processed tomatoes money can buy. Don't fool around with crushed tomatoes; you can add fresh if you want chunky sauce later. This is where one doesn't skimp. "Pastene" makes a fine product, if you can find it in big cans (otherwise go to the supermarket and buy lots of medium-sized cans of it.) Remember, no chunky; "ground" and "sauce." "Sauce" must have some indication on the can that it is seedless. Ground tomatoes, by nature, are seedless. Grinding the seeds would render the product bitterly inedible.

    Four Bay Leaves. More if you really like the taste of laurel. Use half if you're indeed using fresh laurel. UPDATE: It just occurred to me that the "laurel" I'm talking about is the stuff the ancient Roman Emperors used to wear around their heads. Do not confuse this with mountain laurel. Should you insinuate the latter (the state flower of Connecticut) into your sauce, you're gonna die, suckah.

    Basil*. At least three bunches or enough to make a cup of minced basil. Do not, under any circumstances, get lazy and go and use either the flowers at the tops, nor the stems. Just the leaves. We usually find a barmaid whom, if she's bored, will pluck basil leaves off of three bunches if you let her drink while she's behind the stick. Who cares; let her have whatever she wants. Just instruct her that should one bit of stem remain on those leaves you'll bathe her in whatever the hell she's drinking.

    A 750 ml. bottle of Chianti or some other Sangiovese-based, (e.g., Montalpulciano d'Abruzzo) wine, at least given the denominazione "DOC". Some people skimp on this, too. I wouldn't cook with wine that I wouldn't serve at a casual meal. And it doesn't need to be expensive. Opici brand DOC Chianti (yeah, in a straw-covered bottle) is the perfect choice for making sauce. Not too much tannins; not too much fruit.

    A cup of Sambuca (or, "Anisette.") Don't use cheap stuff. The only one's that'll do are Sambuca Molinari or Sambuca Mellitti; both very dry versions of anise liqueur preferred because they don't have the cloying sweetness of Sambuca Romana or, (Heaven forbid!) a non-Italian brand like DeKuyper, Bols, or (yecch) Arrow.

    Freshly ground black pepper, and salt, to taste.

    To avoid sticking, make sure your pot is thick, the thicker the better (but never cast iron; the acid in the sauce reacts in a bad, bad way with this metal. Aluminum has also been brought into question in recent years, but I find no difference.). Also make sure it's clean and dry. Put it on the fire for a short while; then add the olive oil. I don't know why, but this is how every good chef does it; and the results are miraculous. When the oil's hot but not smoking, saute the garlic quickly. Do not let it brown; browned garlic is bitter garlic!

    After just "mellowing" the garlic in the hot oil for awhile, (just about a minute, if the stuff's making noises), add all of the tomato products. I usually rinse the cans out with a little water. This sauce's gonna be cooking for a long time, so allow a little water for what's gonna evaporate. Stir everything up and bring the mixture, stirring every 15 minutes or so, (on a medium-low flame) to the point where it's nearly boiling (it'll look like lava in the top of a volcano — blup, blup blup, blup!)

    When heated through, add the bay leaves and half the basil. Add the wine, and the Sambuca.

    Now, get ready to wait. Leave the pot on the lowest flame possible. When using a restaurant stove with large burners, I take one of the burner grates from another burner, and plop it atop the first grating, to make a double-layered affair so the heat's farther away from the pot and covers the bottom more evenly; however, this doesn't work with a large pot and the gratings from most common household stoves, so try using either one of those metal devices intended to keep cream sauces from burning, or just use a big square of cast iron under your pot, if you can find one. This'll save you lots of extra stirring.

    But no matter what you do, stir the sauce at least every half hour or so. And make sure that the flame remains low, low, low!

    How long you cook the sauce is up to you, but before you've finished, you should have relatively thick, smooth sauce. Add the rest of the basil. Season to taste with the salt and pepper. At this point, some folks like to use good-quality red pepper flakes (the stuff without the seeds) for extra kick (the seeds are just "hot" spicy for "hot's" sake; they impart no flavor as do good, dried peppers).

    To make the sauce even better: make it the day before, and then heat it up. There is no chemical nor methodical way to expedite this process; there's something about allowing the sauce to cool, and then heating it up again, that makes a good sauce a great one. (One need not refrigerate the tomato sauce; please believe me, there's enough acids in that sauce that it won't go bad if covered up and left out overnight. Unless your household pets or household vermin dig the taste of a good tomato sauce. Then the cover needs to be tight, and strong (or weighted).

    NOW the variations!

    The plain sauce recipe above is good on just about any kind of pasta there is (a smooth sauce is especially delightful on perfectly-cooked Angel Hair pasta) served up with plenty of grated Pecorino Romano cheese or my favorite, Asiago. Grate the cheese from a block; the stuff keeps forever, and strands, or shards, are much better than that coffee-grind-consistency crap they purvey in all but the finest Italian markets (where you can get 1/16" shards made with a proper cheese grater).

    Add seeded hot peppers, lemon zest and sauteed onions to the sauce for sauce Fra Diavolo, a must for seafood (Shrimp, Lobster, Clams, or best, all three) that's absolutely fresh. Make the stuff hot enough for the pepper-heads who're eating it, but don't turn it into a contest; let the flavor of the seafood shine through.

    Add minced, sauteed Sopressata (Italian rolled bacon) or regular bacon, in a pinch, along with sauteed minced onions for sauce Amatricana which is delightful on linguine and spaghetti. Some people whirl in a little heavy cream right before serving.

    For "Sunday Sauce," chicken legs (and in the old days, the livers and the gizzards) are placed in the sauce, along with a few sausages, and maybe a pork chop or two, and water is added to the sauce, along with chopped onions. This is then simmered and stirred for at the very least three hours. (If one can procure a bone from a Prosciutto ham; add this alone to one's Sunday Sauce and it's a thing of utter beauty. You might want to have the butcher whack it into 3 or 4 pieces so the marrow comes out.) Sunday Sauce goes on top of any kind of macaroni; penne, ziti, ziti rigati, or my favorite, "bow ties," (farfalle). If you can find them, radiatore; these round things that look a little like old-fashioned steam heat radiators, curly with lots of "fins," are the best for absorbing a good tomato sauce.

    Add fresh, seeded, thickly chopped tomatoes and onions at the last minute for a great marinara sauce either a) if your family/friends like "chunky" sauce, or b) if you're going to cook mussels or clams in the sauce. To make shellfish marinara, make sure the bivalves are absolutely clean; let them sit an hour in cold water with pepper flakes in (twice, to be sure) so they "spit" any grit out. Place said shellfish in a saucepan and dose 'em with a good helping of white wine (about 1/4 cup per serving). Cover the pan, until the shellfish open. Discard any unopened shellfish. Then add your sauce, and stir until heated through thoroughly. You can serve this with pasta, but never add grated cheese for seafood.

    I'm not gonna get into making meatballs. Suffice it to say that I use 4 parts meat to one part bread crumbs, I do add a little egg, and some sauteed onion and garlic. And Romano cheese. And I don't fry 'em. I simmer 'em in the sauce so they come out like soft meatballs; they can be eaten with a fork, or spread on bread and eaten by dipping into the sauce.

    The gourmet delight which is Bolognese sauce is a rich, intense meat sauce, which requires even more work and attention than does this simple recipe. But in my opinion, there is no other meat sauce. So go ahead, add your hamburger sauteed with onions, or your sausage meat, or a combination of both, and simmer until fully cooked. You'll have a meat sauce, if that's what your hungry friends are clamoring for. But you won't have Bolognese sauce.


    Do not:

    • Under any circumstances, add Oregano. Oregano is for pizza sauce only; and then only in certain cases; and also for some very fine Greek dishes. But not for Tomato Sauce.
    • Put sugar in the sauce. This is only a very conspicuous (to the Tomato Sauce connoisseur) cover-up for having used inferior tomato products.
    • Use baking soda to "foam" the "acid" out of the tomatoes. Tomatoes are supposed to contain acid, silly. And even though you're scraping and discarding the scum that comes to the top from the reaction between acid and alkali, there'll be enough sodium left behind to give a 17-year-old high blood pressure.
    • Use wine that's "corked" or has otherwise gone bad. Remember, don't cook with wine you wouldn't at least serve to your guests at a casual meal.
    • Wear your finest white Oxford shirt and light-colored slacks while cooking with tomatoes. It's just not right. If you do dare to wear light-colored clothing or fail to wear an apron while making sauce, and still come away clean, it only means that after dinner you're gonna splash coffee all over your outfit.

    UPDATE 5/18/08: Apatrix says re tomato sauce: "Not extra virgin" for something that people will EAT?!? Why don't you just put in Pennzoil? :P

    Response: A plain, blended oil that's lighter in flavor is indicated when cooking the basic sauce. Some extra-virgin, first-pressing oils impart a funky flavor when cooked for a long time. Sure, those oils are great for some things, and tomato sauce too; it's just that they should be added at the end of the cooking.

    *A note about basil: At least in the U.S., it's possible to find fresh basil year-round nearly everywhere. It's even in the supermarkets in the dead of winter where I live. Fresh basil lends a completely different flavor to foods than does the dried product. And the neat thing about basil is that one really can't use too much of it!

    The simple Italian red sauce is all about variations on a theme. If you have the fundamentals down, you can make almost infinite sauces to fit any context. For an excellent, detailed discussion of the techniques involved, see Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.

    First, we'll look at the simplest variant, which consists of nothing but a yellow onion, garlic, San Marzano tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper, and fresh basil (NEVER dried). This simple version illustrates the fundamentals of creating the layered flavour of the Italian red sauce.


    Finely mince the onion and garlic with a mezzaluna or chef's knife. Do not crush the garlic using a garlic press or similar, as this will leave an acrid pulp that will not blend as well with the other flavours.

    Take a stockpot or saucepan, and lightly but thoroughly coat the bottom with extra virgin olive oil. Add the onion and allow it to sauté at medium heat, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes. Thorough sautéing of the onion is essential for the flavour blending (insaporire) process. Once the onion begins to become translucent, add the minced garlic, and sauté it for no more than five minutes, stirring frequently to avoid burning.

    To the onion-garlic soffritto, add either canned diced San Marzano tomatoes or fresh blanched Roma tomatoes, stirring occasionally. Add sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. After about 30 minutes of simmering, add the hand-shredded basil leaves and toss with your preferred pasta.


    Most variants will involve adding additional ingredients at particular times. However, one variant, known as spaghetti alla carrettiera (Coachman's Spaghetti) maintains the same basic ingredient list, but adds five cloves of minced garlic along with the tomatoes, creating a more subtle garlic flavour.

    Possible additions:

    Crushed red pepper (to taste, starting when tomatoes are added)
    Rosemary (either dried or in sprig form, when tomatoes are added)
    Thyme (either dried, or preferrably in sprig form, when tomatoes are added)
    Oregano (fresh, minced. A perfectly valid and common addition to pasta sauces. Traditional pizza sauces, on the other hand, do not normally use it. Add when tomatoes are added)
    Red wine (chianti, merlot, added, to taste, once the onions and garlic are fully sautéed and thereafter. Adds a full-bodied sweetness)
    Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena (hard to find and very expensive, but absolutely delicions in simple sauces. 100 ml bottles are available for USD 60.00 and up, once the onions and garlic are fully sautéed. The better supermarket "balsamic vinegars" (technically: condimento alimentare balsamico) are sometimes good as well)
    A rind of parmigiano reggiano cheese (with all the cheese removed, once the tomatoes are added)
    Celery (finely chopped, added immediately after garlic is sautéed. Sauté for an additional five minutes)
    Tomato paste (makes for a thicker sauce, add in small amounts with the tomatoes)
    Tomato purée (also thickens the sauce, but not as much as tomato paste, add at same time)

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