A simple, basic tomato sauce for pasta is one of those recipes, like a vinaigrette, that everyone should have available in their back pocket for an easy dinner. The one here is not necessarily for a work-night (considering the simmer time), but with a few tweaks, it can go from a simple red sauce to a meat sauce to a puttenesca in no time flat.
Basic Tomato Sauce
2 24-28 oz. cans of CANNED TOMATOES (just about any variety, but unsalted and at least one of them should be whole tomatoes)
1 tbs TOMATO PASTE
1 medium ONION, diced
2 cloves GARLIC, sliced thin
2 tbs OLIVE OIL (extra virgin, if possible)
2 tbs WINE or BALSAMIC VINEGAR (in the version I just made I used SHERRY, since it was what I had around – what you use will affect the taste of the end result, but that’s just part of the fun)
2 tsp DRIED BASIL
2 tsp DRIED OREGANO
2 tsp DRIED THYME
a sprinkle of RED PEPPER FLAKES
1 pinch SUGAR
2 heavy pinches of KOSHER SALT
4 grinds BLACK PEPPER
In an enameled dutch oven (not uncoated cast iron) or medium sized pot, heat olive oil until just shimmering and add the onions, one pinch of the salt and the sugar . Cook until the onions turn translucent, 6-10 minutes depending on your stove and cooking vessel. Add tomato paste and cook for another 2 minutes. Add garlic and wine and cook until the wine is mostly absorbed. Crush the canned tomatoes by hand as you add them to the pot – be careful, there’ll be a tendency for them to spit all over the place, so you can either do it down in the pot or pre-crush them in the can. Add all of the herbs and spices (including the 2nd pinch of salt and black pepper). Reduce the heat to a simmer and stir occasionally for anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half – you’ll know it is done when it looks thick enough to coat your pasta. At this point you can either serve as-is or take a stick blender to it and make it as smooth as you’d like.
And that’s it.