Friday, October 30, 2015

friday tips: quick tomato sauce

I've mentioned the tradition growing up with Sunday sauce: starting it early in the morning with the smell of sizzling garlic wafting through the halls and the sauce bubbling for hours, stirring often.

Is that the best way to do it? Probably. It tastes delicious and has that deep, slow cooked flavor. But-do you always have all day? Or perhaps you have a sudden craving at 4pm for pasta. What to do then?

I have a few tricks that will help give a quick sauce that all day simmering flavor. And by quick, I mean it can be ready in the time it takes to boil pasta, so use this as a weeknight meal too.

I used canned tomatoes here (and prefer San Marzano, but use what you like/have.) I also like to make a sauce out of fresh tomatoes every so often, but bear in mind that this will extend the prep time as you will have to boil, peel and de-seed the tomatoes.

So here we go...

First of all: save those parmiggiano reggiano rinds. When you have finished the block of cheese, DO NOT THROW THEM AWAY. They are basically sauce, soup and stew gold and you will be so grateful to have them once you taste the difference they make.

I slice them into about 2 inch pieces and save them in a bag in the fridge and pop them into my sauces. The benefit of them, especially in a quick sauce, is that they give you an earthy depth of flavor and lots of richness.

I also turn to wine (shocking, I know) for a quick flavor boost. A few glugs (technical term) into the sauce at the beginning of cooking time gives the wine time to boil and cook through with the tomatoes and provides some body to the sauce. It lends that "cooked all day" flavor even if its only been simmering for 20 minutes. Use a bottle you would drink (and finish the bottle with dinner.)

Lastly, it's no secret I'm a huge fan of fresh herbs and for a dish like this it's no exception. Basil is great, but use whatever you have, which for me is always parsley. It brightens up the sauce and I add half of the herbs during cooking, and the rest on top for a burst of flavor.

Here's my full recipe below:

20 minute tomato sauce
1 can of tomatoes (either diced or peeled, I don't like the pureed)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
red wine (about 1/8 cup, but just two two generous pours over the sauce)
1 two inch parm rind cube
fresh herbs (optional/highly encouraged): parsley, basil-about a handful of each, roughly chopped
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (skip if you don't like the heat)
1/4 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
  • put pasta water up to boil
  • sauté garlic in olive oil over medium-low heat. once it starts to soften, add tomatoes and stir through
  • raise heat to medium-high and add remaining ingredients, save for half the herbs
  • cover and increase heat to high, let sauce bubble for 10 minutes and thicken
  • lower heat to medium, let simmer, stirring frequently
  • taste for seasonings/adjust as necessary, then toss in remaining herbs and serve with pasta, a few dollops of ricotta and some grated parm

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