Friday, January 8, 2010

Quick and Easy Tomato Sauce

So many people keep jarred pasta sauce on hand because it is just too time consuming and difficult to make your own.  But what if it wasn’t?  What if, in the space of 15 or 20 minutes, you could have a beautiful red sauce ready to serve your family?

The New Best Recipe from the editors of Cook’s Illustrated is one of my favorite cookbooks because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if I follow the recipe, my dish will turn out perfectly.  I don’t have to guess or modify the recipe before even trying it.  But, it can also be one of the most complicated cookbooks in my arsenal so I often read Cook’s recipe and then fall back on Better Homes and Gardens or How To Cook Everything for a simpler version.  Not this time.  Cook’s has mastered the art of the quick pasta sauce, and so, I will give it to you with very little change. 

There are a few ingredients any cook needs on hand in the kitchen at all times, and those include canned tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil, which is practically all you need for this sauce.  You can have too much garlic in one dish, but in my opinion, it can be added in small quantities to almost any savory dish for an extra immune boost.  In fact, garlic used to be referred to as “Russian penicillin” for its amazing antibacterial powers.  To get the most benefit from your garlic, crush it and let it sit for a few minutes before cooking so the enzymes have time to mix and work their magic.

Tomatoes are a nutritional powerhouse, as are most fruits and vegetables.  High in beta carotene, vitamin C, biotin and vitamin K, these little buggers can do wonders for your health and vitality.  Of special note, tomatoes are especially high in the carotene lycopene, who is famous for fighting prostate cancer.  Conveniently for us, lycopene is most bioavailable in COOKED tomatoes, making this sauce both a delectable and nutritious delight!

Quick Pasta Sauce

     1            (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
     3            tablespoons olive oil
     2            medium garlic cloves, minced or crush through garlic press
     1            tablespoon dried basil
     ¼           teaspoon sugar
                   Salt to taste

1)   Heat 2 T olive oil over medium heat in a sauté pan.  When the oil is heated, add the garlic and cook 30 seconds, just until garlic is fragrant but not brown and crispy.
2)   Stir in the tomatoes and basil and heat until it starts to bubble.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes, until it starts to thicken.  Stir occasionally.
3)   Add sugar, 1 T olive oil and salt to taste.  Simmer one more minute and adjust seasonings.
4)   Serve over pasta.  Leave vegetarian or add cooked sausage or salami.  Boiled greens make an excellent vegetable side dish!

Serves 4

Modified from Pasta and Quick Tomato Sauce from “The New Best Recipe” Cookbook

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