If you are like most of the people I have spoken with lately when you are looking to cook a pasta dish at home, you are probably reaching for a store bought jar of sauce. It is an easy and convenient solution that is readily available. I’m sure your local grocery store carries a dozen or more different brands, each with a claim like “tastes just like grandma’s” or “the true taste of Italy”. The problem with these store bought sauces is that most of them have zero flavour, and all of them incorporate ingredients we all have trouble pronouncing, but yet we still buy them, because who has time to make their own sauce?
If you are trying to mimic that real Italian restaurant flavour at home, you are not going to be able to accomplish it with a sauce from a jar. The great news is, if you are comfortable boiling pasta, you can make a great tasting, simple sauce that bursts with flavour. Without any of the preservatives or ingredients you can’t pronounce.
As we all know, the main ingredient in a red pasta sauce is tomatoes. If you are feeling adventurous and are looking for the authentic experience you can remove the skins of fresh tomatoes (Roma tomatoes work best) by boiling them for several minutes and then immediately submerging them in an ice bath, the skins should fall right off. If you want to avoid this step and save yourself some time, a large can of crushed tomatoes will serve nicely as your base. For additional flavouring I like to use a few fresh basil leaves, a couple of pinches of dried oregano, salt, pepper, and 4-5 garlic cloves minced. Empty the crushed tomatoes into a pot and add your flavouring ingredients, you could also use a couple tablespoons of Italian seasoning and a few pinches of salt. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer for at least half an hour.
Mix in your cooked pasta, top with some parmesan cheese and you are ready to serve your truly homemade pasta dish.
Once you are comfortable with this simple sauce, you can try different flavour combinations, such as adding sautéed onions or peppers and playing around with the spice and herb combinations. The flavour options are endless, as long as you are willing to put the time in to experiment.
Have fun and enjoy your homemade sauce!