Pasta with Tomato Sauce

You will see: There’s no reason to buy pasta sauce in jars.
TIME 25 to 30 minutes
MAKES 4 servings
3 tablespoons olive oil, or more as needed
1 medium onion, chopped
One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, including the juice
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound any dried pasta
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
½ cup chopped fresh basil leaves for garnish, optional

1 Bring a stockpot of water to a boil and salt it. Put the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

2 Adjust the heat so the sauce bubbles enthusiastically and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down and the mixture begins to thicken and appear more uniform in texture, 10 to 15  minutes. Taste, adjust the seasoning, and adjust the heat so the tomato sauce stays hot but doesn’t boil.

3 When the water boils, cook the pasta until it is tender but not mushy; start tasting after 5 minutes. When it’s done, scoop out and reserve at least 1 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta.

4 Add the pasta and a splash of the cooking water to the sauce in the skillet and toss to coat, adding a little more oil or cooking water if necessary to create a slightly creamy sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning and add more oil if you’d like; then toss with the cheese and the basil if you’re using it. Serve, passing more cheese at the table.

  • You can whip up a batch of tomato sauce from scratch in the time it takes to boil water and cook pasta.
  • Diced tomatoes are super-convenient whether in cans, cartons, or jars. Just don’t buy crushed tomatoes or tomato purée, which are both much too watery.
  • Canned whole tomatoes will give you an even meatier sauce and are easy enough to deal with: First drain off the liquid from the can and save it; you may need it to thin the sauce (or drink!). Don’t bother to core them, but do use a knife to hack away at the tomatoes right in the can to break them up a bit.
  • Here’s how to make extra sauce for the freezer: Complete the sauce through Step 2, doubling the amounts of oil, onions, tomatoes, and salt and pepper. Let half of the sauce cool and pack it in sealed containers and freeze. Eat within 6 months or so. To defrost, heat it slowly in a pan over low heat, let it sit overnight in the fridge, or microwave it.

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