I have been working on keeping a record of all the basic recipes that I make. When I am on a time crunch I often rely on simple recipes to help me out that week. This week has been a nightmare! Everything seems so busy and chaotic. Pasta is my savoir!!!! It is easy to make and it can keep for a while. It is great to bring to work and you can always change it up. You can also make extra pasta sauce and freeze it for later! Here is my basic pasta sauce. A simple sauce can be made with very few ingredients. I always keep canned stewed tomatoes in the pantry in case I quickly need to make tomato sauce. In this recipe I used fresh tomatoes as I am also trying to make everything from scratch. All you need for this sauce are some Roma tomatoes (sweet and nice tomatoes! with lots of flavor), garlic (a must in all recipes), onion, celery, carrot (for sweetness to the sauce), bay leaves and of course tomato paste (adds sweetness and depth). I am adding sausage and spinach just because.
The method I am using is awesome if you have a food processor. You can make this sauce quickly and it speeds up the cooking time as everything is blended finely. Just blend everything together in the food processor and dump into a pot. You can quickly soften the carrot, celery, onion, and garlic in the pan before adding the tomatoes. If you don’t have a food processor, don’t worry. Chop everything finely and toss in the pot. The longer you cook the sauce the softer everything will become.
Blend tomatoes in the food processor. Instead of fresh tomatoes, you can always go for the canned ones. They are pretty tasty and convenient.
Add them to the pot and put in spices, bay leaves, and tomato paste. Simmer and enjoy! The longer you simmer the pasta sauce the more condensed the sauce will become. It will start getting a very rich note. The longer the sauce simmers the thicker the sauce will be. I don’t like mine too thick.
When the sauce is done you can toss in your pasta. At this time I like to toss in spinach and fresh herbs. This sauce is great for vegetarians too since you are not adding any meat. Sometimes I pan fry the sausage or ground meat and mix it into the sauce to make a meat sauce. This time I was lazy so I tossed the sausages on a baking sheet and threw them in a 400 degree oven and baked for about 30 minutes. For variations you can use different types of pasta (maybe gnocchi), add different meat (meatballs, chicken strips, ground beef, tofu) or veggies (maybe try tossing in some baby kale, fresh basil, blanched broccoli, peas or corn), use different toppings such as grated cheese, bread crumbs, orhot sauce. You can even add a cup of wine for a very rich sauce, just allow to simmer longer to thicken. Add a tablespoon of butter to the sauce to make it less tangy. You can use this sauce for lasagne, cabbage rolls, or a chili base. It is a very versatile sauce. If you don’t like too much salt don’t add any to the sauce. I usually boil my pasta in salted water which means that the pasta will salt the sauce. This technique is good because the pasta doesn’t water down the sauce. Also pre-made sausages are salty enough so less salt in the pasta sauce is better.
Basic Pasta Sauce: (You can make this Vegetarian) This is an adapted recipe from Joy of Cooking (love this book. Everyone should own a copy!!!) Makes about 6-8 servings of pasta
- 1 small onion
- 1 celery rib
- 1 carrot
- 15 Roma tomatoes
- 2 cloves garlic
- spices, pepper
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 1 tin of tomato paste
- Pasta of your choice (I used Fettuccine)
- Sausages (optional)
- Spinach (optional)
Use a processor and grate onion, celery and carrot. Cook with oil on low until tender (about 5 minutes). Meanwhile blend tomatoes in a food processor and add to the pot. Mince garlic and add with the tomatoes. Simmer for about 40 minutes. Stir often to make sure the sauce doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
Boil pasta until al dente and toss in sauce. Make sure you are adding plenty of salt (I add about a palm full or 1/4 cup to a pot of water) to the water so the pasta doesn’t water down your sauce. Toss in spinach and serve with sausages or other fixings.
For the sausages, preheat oven to 400 Degrees. Cook for 30 minutes or until sausages are cooked through.
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