weeknight pasta sauce
I know it will be an easy dinner on a weeknight when I have some tomatoes and a couple of basil leaves on hand. I make this sauce at least a couple of times a month, because all I have to do is watch it for the last few minutes. I sometimes blitz it quickly in a blender for a smoother texture, or add some heavy cream, and call it a soup!
Ingredients (for two servings):
3 large tomatoes (FYI mine were heirloom, but they were watery, and prolonged the reduction time – choose Early Girl or San Marzano, if possible)
4 tablespoons of butter (Earth Balance works as well, if you want this to be dairy free)
2 garlic cloves, smashed and roughly chopped – optional
half of a small red onion, cut in half or quarters
a few basil leaves
a few parsley sprigs (flat leaf preferably)
toppings of your choice: Parmesan and roasted corn featured, you can add peppers or capers
1) Fill a pan with water that can fit your tomatoes comfortably, and bring to a rolling boil. Meanwhile, wash your tomatoes, then cut a small “x” at the bottom, and when the water is ready, pop them in. Depending on the ripeness of your fruit, this can take 30 seconds to a minute. You can start to see the skin peeling away from the fruit. Scoop them out, and place them in an ice water bath (mostly ice, with some water). Leave them to cool.
2) Clean the pan, and if using garlic, heat about a tablespoon of butter on medium low, and slightly brown the garlic to release some of the flavor.
3) Once the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, peel the skin, and either chop the tomatoes, or smash them by hand (so relaxing!). You want the pieces to be small, and the liquid to escape.
4) Place the tomatoes in the pan, add the butter (if you roasted garlic, just add the tomatoes on top, and the remaining butter), and pop in the quartered or halved onion. Add a couple of good pinches of salt and give it a good stir. Keep the heat on medium to medium low, and walk away. You can clean your basil leaves, and chiffonade them at this time. You can roast some corn.
5) Check on the sauce every 5-7 minutes, and give the pot a stir every so often so the tomatoes don’t stick to the bottom. Depending on your tomatoes, the reducing can take anywhere between 20 minutes to 45 minutes. Your sauce will thicken, and the bubbles will be popping almost like a volcano. Stir, stir, stir when this happens. Your sauce is almost done.Â Alternatively, if you don’t have time, you can always add some tomato paste, or a little bit of flour to quicken the process.Â
6) Start the pasta water at this time. Add the basil leaves and pepper to the sauce, and leave it on for another minute or two. Taste for salt, and if needed, add more.
7) While the sauce cools, make your pasta, and cut the parsley. You can combine the sauce with the finished pasta in a pan, if you don’t want to pile up too many pots. If your sauce is too chunky, you can also put it in the blender for a quick whirl. Plate, and top off with some Parmesan, and toppings of your choice.