Great Tomato Based Pasta Sauces Start With Great Tomatoes and Great Saucepans!

Spaghetti with tomato sauce We've all been there.  It's 5:30 PM and the kids are starving.  You're at the store and there sits a delightfully convenient jar of pre-made spaghetti sauce in a jar and you think, "That seems ok, and...

Spaghetti with tomato sauce
Spaghetti with tomato sauce

We've all been there.  It's 5:30 PM and the kids are starving.  You're at the store and there sits a delightfully convenient jar of pre-made spaghetti sauce in a jar and you think, "That seems ok, and really, spaghetti sauce is all the same.  Right?"  Yet, what if you could skip the bland, over processed sauces you often find in cans and jars and make a tomato sauce that will wow, instead of underwhelm while still having dinner on the table in no time?

The truth of the matter is that when it comes to preparing meals, how fresh your ingredients are, and what variety of ingredient you are using matters and when it comes to making a tomato based pasta sauce, this matters maybe even just a little more.  While the pre-made, pre-spiced, jar and canned options are convenient, they rarely offer you the most flavor for your meal.  Yet there is no need to fret over not having all day to slave over a simmering marinara, or a meaty ragu made by using fresh tomatoes.

When looking for a quick, yet great tasting alternative to commercial tomato based sauces the only trick you need to know is that the tomatoes you use make, or break your sauce.  While fresh are the best, they take an amount of time to cook to perfection that many of us don't have on a normal day to day basis.  Average cans of diced tomatoes, or even whole tomatoes are often not the kind of tomatoes that lend themselves to a flavorful, well textured sauce and cook down into a thin, sometimes watery sauce that won't coat pasta well.

For a thicker and richer sauce, start with canned tomatoes that are specifically grown for the purpose of making sauces.  San Marzano tomatoes are often considered the "top of the line" in sauce tomatoes and are becoming increasingly easy to find.  Whether they are imported, or grown domestically, almost every major supermarket has begun to stock at least one variety of San Marzano tomatoes.  Whole Italian tomatoes will also make a flavorful sauce, but may not be as consistent, or sweet as the prized San Marzanos.

Although Italian, and San Marzano (both the imported variety, or those from the US) can be bought diced, and even already sauced--buying your sauce tomatoes whole in can is key for allowing the sauce time to simmer and break down into a thicker and more flavorful sauce.  This usually only adds about ten to fifteen minutes to the total cook time and is well worth the small increase.  Below is a simple recipe that will quickly become a family favorite on your favorite pasta, lasagna and more:

Pasta Sauce
Pasta Sauce

Classic, Quick Tomato Sauce for Pasta and More

Ingredients:

  • One 35 oz can (or cans adding up to 35 oz) of whole San Marzano, or Italian tomatoes (with basil leaf is fine)
  • 3 - 6 cloves diced garlic (more or less to taste)
  • 2 cups red wine (whatever you like to drink will work great, but make sure it's a drinking wine and not a cooking wine for good flavor)
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp dried Italian spices
  • Olive oil for sauteing garlic

Directions:

Heat to medium approximately a tablespoon, to a tablespoon and a half of olive oil in a heavy bottomed sauce pan big enough to hold all the ingredients of the recipe.  Saute the diced garlic briefly (about 2-3 minutes) being careful to not scorch.  Add the entire can of tomatoes, water and all.  Add wine, vinegar, and Italian spices.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until tomatoes have broken down and reached the desired sauce consistency (anywhere between 15 to 30 minutes depending on the thickness of the sauce you are looking for).  If desired, add in previously browned Italian sausage, or ground beef for a hearty and meaty sauce.  Serve with the pasta of your choice.

With the right ingredients, and quality cookware and saucepans from Cilantro The Cooks Shop, you can skip the bland cans and jars of sauce from the supermarket and create an Italian taste sensation that will have your family singing "Brava!", or "Bravo!" in no time.  Contact us to learn more about quality kitchen tools, and ingredients for all your cooking needs.