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Quick and Dirty Tomato Sauce!This is a wonderfully, quick and equally delicious sauce.  And everyone should be able to make a good tomato or pasta sauce.  As you know, The Goddess is all about cooking from scratch.  Having said that, she uses jarred, ready-made pasta sauces frequently.  Obviously, she has feet of clay and says one thing and then does another…she is clearly not to be trusted.  But, she must admit, this sauce is almost as easy and opening a jar.  She always adds some garlic and usually some fresh herbs to the jarred stuff, so really?  I think we have to ask ourselves just how lazy is she?

When you make any sauce you want to thicken and cook quickly, you want to use a more shallow pan.  I use my 14-inch skillet.  It’s also perfect to dump the pasta in and toss with the sauce, but that comes later in the game.

I’m not going to give you pictures of the process, because you don’t need them.  You know how to do this.

But, there are a few things I want to mention—

  • I add a carrot to my sauce.  I like the sauce better with it added.  I grate a carrot finely and it pretty much disappears into the sauce, leaving behind a more complex flavor profile and a lovely hint of sweetness.  You can omit it, but I think you will find this sauce is better with it.  Flavor, baby…it’s all about the flavor.
  • I add a sprig of marjoram, which I remove at the end of cooking.  It adds a subtle flavor, which enhances the finished sauce.  I also don’t cook the fresh basil.  I like to stir the basil in at the very end and let the residual heat “bloom” the flavors.
  • Taste the sauce at the end of cooking.  It should taste just slightly salty.  It doesn’t really matter how much salt you add to the pasta cooking-water, the pasta will still pull the salt from the sauce.  If the sauce is to acidic for you taste, add the sugar.  Otherwise, dig in!
  • If you are tempted to omit the butter—Overcome your temptation!!  If you need to, look out the window as you plop the butter into the sauce, have someone else add it, or just put your big girl/boy panties on, and stir it in!  It not only add flavor, but it adds silkiness to the sauce.  Simply put, it’s a delicious addition.

That’s about it.  I think the recipe instructions are pretty straight-forward, so without further fanfare—

Quick and Dirty Tomato Sauce!

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

  • 1/4 cup flavorful olive oil (I prefer the Spanish oils)
  • 1/3 cup very finely minced onion
  • 1 small carrot, finely shredded (about 1/2 cup)
  • 6-8 cloves fresh garlic, very finely minced or put through a press
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes, optional
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 (28-32 oz) carton/jar of chopped tomatoes or puree (see NOTE)
  • 1 sprig marjoram, optional
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher or sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
  • 2-3 tablespoons coarsely chopped or torn fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (don’t omit this, please)
  • Pasta, cooked al dente
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, freshly grated

Add the oil to a large, shallow sauté pan (I use a 14-inch skillet) and set over medium heat. Add the onion and shredded carrot; sauté for 2-3 minutes or until the veggies are softened.  Stir in garlic and red pepper flakes, if using.  Sauté for 1-2 minutes; add the parsley.

Raise the heat to high.  Carefully add the tomatoes, quickly covering with a lid until the spattering subsides; about 20 seconds. Stir with a wooden spoon, add the marjoram sprig, if using (it is a nice addition).  Lower the heat to medium or medium-high. You want this sauce to cook at a good simmer.  About halfway through, add the salt and continue to simmer until slightly thickened.  Do not over-thicken.

Remove from the heat source.  Taste.  If you prefer a sharper sauce, omit the sugar, but ordinarily the sugar enhances the acid without making the sauce sweet.  Remove the marjoram sprig; add the basil and stir in the butter, until melted.

Add the drained pasta to the sauce.  Toss and serve immediately.

NOTE:  I’ve been using Cento™ crushed tomatoes or POMI™ fire-roasted crushed tomatoes.  When in season, fresh peeled and seeded Roma tomatoes are wonderful.  It’s generally a good idea to save some of the “pasta water” in case you need to thin the sauce.

Quick and Dirty Tomato Sauce! Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2019.  All rights reserved.

This is a basic tomato sauce.  At times, I’ve been know to omit the herbs and add ground cumin and coriander, along with raisins and green olives.  Or curry powder and turmeric and use cilantro instead of parsley.  Flexibility is the name of the game….