There are countless ways to make a tomato sauce in Italy. Even for the same recipe, same ingredients, and same process you will find endless nuance of such perceived importance it borders on the occult. Below you will find as simplistic a recipe as possible, but do add your own superstitious flair as you wish.
- Your tomatoes are ideally fresh, though if it’s not the season canned tomatoes are perfectly fine. If fresh you can quarter or crush them to help them break down in the pan. I leave the skins on because I like that slight tannic effect they contribute, but if you want to peel them just make a small x incision on the bottom, blanch them for about 30 seconds, remove to a bowl of ice water, and once cool pull away the peeling skin. From there you can cook them whole, quartered, diced or crushed. If using canned tomatoes, proceed to step 2.
- Now as your pasta water is coming to a boil begin by sautéing the garlic in a fondo or foundation of olive oil that covers the base of your pan. The garlic can be sliced, minced, crushed, or whole depending on how you like it and the quantity of garlic is up to you. Medium heat is recommended, low and slow is the way to bring out the sweetness in the garlic.
- Once the garlic is a pale golden color and fragrant add your prepared tomatoes and a bit of salt and cook down until they resemble a sauce to the consistency of your liking. The more you cook your sauce the further it will break down, and there is no correct or incorrect consistency, just whatever you like. Always taste for seasoning and adjust if needed.
- Time dropping your pasta with when you feel the sauce will be ready so they both are in unison. It is always best to remove the pasta directly from the water with tongs, or a strainer and into your sauce about 30 seconds before you think it’s perfectly al dente. This helps marry the pasta and the sauce and creates that wonderful sum is greater than the parts effect that makes us question the meaning of life.
- Top with cheese if using, garnish with basil if you’d like, or dig right in as is and Buon Apetito!