Five Fast Tomato Sauces

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What’s the key to a fresh tasting, light tomato sauce? It’s not slight of hand – it all has to do with the way you cook your ingredients. Simple tomato sauces are so easy to make and yes – they do taste much better than the jarred, store-bought alternative. Contrary to popular belief, you can make a delicious Italian sauce that you don’t have to cook for hours. Here are five luscious, savory sauces to dress pasta, serve with breadsticks, or bake with breaded zucchini.

The Classic

classic tomato sauceThis is a flavorful, easy, plain tomato sauce that you can serve with any pasta. Kids like this sauce since it’s “plain”, but you’ll like it since it has plenty of tangy tomato flavor. Blend a 26-ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes until smooth in a blender or food processor. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add handful of finely chopped onion, a crushed garlic clove, a pinch of salt and black pepper. Cook 5 to 6 minutes until the onions are soft. Add the tomatoes, 1/2 cup of white wine, if you have it, or 1/2 cup of water and a sprig of basil. Simmer the sauce until it thickens and season with more salt and pepper if you like. Remove the garlic and basil and serve.

The Goodfella

goodfella sauceI dedicate this sauce to one of the best mobster flicks of all times. Only, I don’t use a razor blade to cut the garlic, a pairing knife will do just fine! It’s got a rich garlic flavor and a slight kick from hot chili. Blend a 26-ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes until smooth in a blender or food processor. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 4 thinly sliced garlic cloves and a pinch of each – salt, hot chili flakes and black pepper. Cook 5 to 6 minutes until the garlic begins to brown. Stir in a tablespoon of tomato paste and cook another 1 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the blended tomatoes, 1/2 cup of red wine if you have it or a 1/2 cup of water. Simmer the sauce until it thickens and season with more salt and pepper if you like. Serve immediately.

Tangy Puttanesca

putanesca-sauceThis traditional Italian sauce get’s its spunky flavor from anchovies and olives – but I add even more flavor and protein with tuna. It’s also great served room temperature if you want to make it ahead. Use the left-overs to top bruschetta – yum! Blend a 26-ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes until smooth in a blender or food processor. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 2 thinly sliced garlic cloves and a handful of chopped onions. Cook 5 to 6 minutes until the onion begins to soften. Stir in a tablespoon of tomato paste and cook another 1 to 3 minutes stirring constantly. Add the blended tomatoes, 1/2 cup of red wine, if you have it, or a 1/2 cup of water. Add a handful of chopped black olives, a handful of chopped anchovies and 2 tablespoons of capers. Simmer the sauce until it thickens, then stir in one 6-ounce can of drained tuna. Season with salt and pepper if you like. Serve immediately.

Pepperoni Pizza

tomato peperoni sauceBlend a 26-ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes until smooth in a blender or food processor. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 2 thinly sliced garlic cloves, a handful of chopped onions, and a handful of chopped turkey pepperoni. Cook 5 to 6 minutes until the onion begins to soften. Stir in a tablespoon of tomato paste and cook another 1 to 3 minutes stirring constantly. Add the blended tomatoes, 1/2 cup of white wine, if you have it or a 1/2 cup of water. Simmer the sauce until it thickens. Season with salt and pepper if you like. Serve immediately.

Low-fat Tomato Vodka

vodka sauceThis sauce is popular because of its creamy texture that comes from cooking down tomatoes and adding heavy cream. My version is just as creamy, minus more than half the fat. Chop 2 pounds of fresh tomatoes in the food processor until smooth. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add a handful of finely chopped onion, a crushed garlic clove and pinch of salt and black pepper. Cook 5 to 6 minutes until the onions are soft. Add 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and cook an additional 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Carefully add 1/4 cup vodka and the tomatoes. Simmer the sauce until it thickens and season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Stir in 1/4 cup reduced fat cream cheese until incorporated and serve immediately.

Making the Pasta

To make the best pasta for your homemade sauce, bring a large stockpot full of water to a rolling boil. Add at least a tablespoon of salt, then add your pasta. Stir well to make sure the pasta won’t stick together. Many home cooks have a habit of adding oil at this point which not only adds extra calories and fat, but can also cause your pasta to become gummy, yuck! So, skip the oil and stir the pasta well with tongs. When it’s becomes tender and still slightly chewy or al dente, drain it and return it to the stock pot. Never rinse the pasta, you don’t want to lose the creamy starch that is clinging to the outside. With the heat on low, add your sauce while stirring continuously for about a minute to allow the sauce to “attach” to the pasta. Add grated Parmesan or Romano if you like and you’re ready to serve.

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Comments

  1. I make a double batch of the plain tomato sauce whenever I need it and store the extra in the freezer and it’s perfect!! So easy.

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