Monday, September 14, 2009

Penne with Basic, Awesome Tomato sauce

The crazy Domino's pizza ad has my toddler enamored with pasta. He will eat pasta for breakfast, lunch and dinner if I let him. So instead of ordering in I decided to make some of the Basic, Awesome Tomato sauce that Deb from Smitten Kitchen promised was .....well, basic and awesome. And it was AWESOME.


I always always always trust Deb when it comes to recipes that work. She has useful tips and hints and has tried and tested the recipe out completely with step by step pictures and instructions. Her recipes never disappoint....however lofty and expensive the ingredient list.

One bite - and the sauce took me right back to a fresh tagliatelle with tomato sauce dish that I had at a charming Italian restaurant in Soho. Considering that I practically thrived on not-so-stupendous pasta dishes while eating out at some places that were not vegan/vegetarian friendly it was quite impressive that it didn't taste like sauce that came out of a jar.

Italian food, even when it is vegetarian tastes simple,clean and delicious. It's primarily because the cuisine relies essentially on the freshness and natural flavors of the ingredients. You can taste the tang of the tomato,the fruitiness of the olive oil with just enough heat from the dried chilli pepper flakes and a hint of garlic. No one condiment stands out or overpowers the other. It is a beautiful marriage of all the flavors and they all live together in harmony and happiness. The only thing that was missing was a good shaving of Parmesan. But I didn't miss it all that much as the sauce more than made up for it.


I found that this sauce also freezes well and keeps fresh for up to a week in the fridge. Infinitely flexible too - you can thicken the sauce,tear and toss a few fresh basil leaves and voila! what have you here - a decadent pizza sauce. Also pairs well with cheesy garlic bread, as a dip for fried mozzarella sticks and forms a great base for a pink sauce when some fresh cream is swirled in.

For the pasta - this sauce works with both fresh and dry pasta. Cook according to package instructions and as a rule don't overcook the pasta. The pasta should be cooked al-dente. Typically takes about 10 - 12 mins of rapid boiling in plenty of salted water.

This recipe henceforth is going to be my go to for a Basic and very Awesome Tomato sauce. Instead of paying the pizza delivery guy a ton of money for something that won't come even close to tasting as good as this - let's get cooking!

Note : I modified the sauce a wee bit by adding some dried herbs - basil on one occasion and dried oregano on another. They both tasted equally good. I highly recommend the herbs for an additional Italian flavor boost.
Also as the tomatoes that I used weren't as red and plump and juicy as I would have liked them to be, I added about 3 tbsp of tomato puree that you can buy in a tetra pack at the grocery store. It gave the sauce a thick and rich red tomato-ey glow.
The white wine was omitted in my version of the sauce. I substituted with plain old regular water.



Source : Smitten Kitchen

Moderately Easy Tomato Sauce

A more involved, seasonal update of the Basic, Awesome stuff.

Makes enough for one small/medium pizza.

4 roma tomatoes
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Splash of white wine
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt

Bring medium pot of water to a boil. Poach the tomatoes for one minute only, and then drain them. As soon as they are cooled off enough that you can touch them, peel them. The peels should come right off. If they don’t, make a slit in the skins. This always does the trick.

Drain and dry the pot. Put it back on the burner over medium heat. Pour in olive oil and let it heat completely before adding the garlic and stirring it for a minute with a wooden spoon. Add the red pepper flakes and stir it for anther minute. You do not want the garlic to brown. Put the peeled tomatoes in the pot, along with the wine, sugar and salt. Break the tomatoes up with your spoon.

Let the sauce simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down. Carefully taste without burning your tongue and adjust seasonings, if necessary.


  1. Have this incredible craving for italian food all the while, can eat it morning, noon and night like rishu. Friday lunch is going to be Penne with awesome basic sauce, thanks for the recipe, will let you know how it turned out

  2. First time here.Glad I came.Your way of presentation is very lovely.It makes a very good reading.Keep it up.If you are regular with your posts, I am sure you are going to make a mark. All the best.

  3. @Swathi,

    You're very welcome and do let me know how it turned out.

    Thank you Sahiti for your kind words - I'm glad you liked the presentation. Do visit again.:)

  4. I think I may have to make this for Sean! It looks delicious.

  5. I made this tonight. I mixed in some parmesan cheese just before the 30 minutes was up for a little added flavor. It was delicious!

  6. love the pasta!Great click!Thanks for visiting my blog shwetha

  7. the way u describe it i can almost smell the tomato sauce.. i love italian food.. especially pasta..

    How to make a website