First off—yes people, an amazing sauce is this simple. The key is using fantastic ingredients. I always use San Marzano tomatoes because they are the BEST. They come in diced or crushed as well, but here’s the secret—let the tomatoes saute whole and break them up at the end. This method retains the natural sweetness to the tomato and adds a lovely flavor to the sauce.
Place your olive oil into the sauce pan on medium heat. (I swear by Lucini oil...another crucial ingredient. Don’t chince out here.) If you digest garlic well, mince and add to oil. If garlic doesn’t settle well with you, smash the cloves and add them to the oil. You’ll saute till fragrant (1-2 minutes). If you minced, keep them in the pot. If not, remove the cloves. This way you get the garlic flavor without having to ingest the actual meat.
Drain the San Marzano tomatoes and add to the oil. As noted above, let the tomatoes remain whole, stirring occasionally for about 10-15 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Take a wooden spoon and break the tomatoes into smaller pieces. Let saute another 5 minutes and remove from heat. Add basil and serve.
*if you prefer a smoother sauce, simply place in blender or food processor once cooked. Remember it is HOT, so do small batches at a time.
This is your basic sauce! You can make a large batch and freeze to have on rainy days when you’re not feeling up to cooking. Here are a few ideas to jazz it up when you want to branch out:
Arrabiata style: This spicy rendition means ‘angry style’ and it is divine. All you need to do is follow the recipe above and add red pepper flakes to the oil and garlic. A teaspoon or so should do the trick—depending on how angry you want to make it!
Vodka Cream: Decadent and delicious, I save this sauce for special occasions. Follow the above recipe with these additions.
Add a teaspoon of red pepper flakes to the garlic. Once the garlic is fragrant, add 1/2 cup vodka (vodka you would want to drink) and turn up the heat to medium/high and let burn off for one minute. Add the tomatoes and follow as above. Once the tomatoes are broken up add 1/2 cup finely grated Romano cheese and 1/2 cup cream. Mix together and go to heaven. If you want to get fancy, add sautéed shrimp and spinach.