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Simple spaghetti/tomato sauce recipe

On another thread about the best spagehtti sauce a lot of people say it's easier to make your own. The only sauces I make take a long time to simmer (other than olive oil, tomatoes, basil w/ a quick simmer). Can you share your recipes for quick, easy tomato sauces? Thanks!

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  1. How long is long? If an hour is enough time to make a sauce, Lidia has one on her site.

    If you search around, I think she has one posted that is simply heating up crushed roma tomatoes with basil and mozzarella. You can spiff it up with other stuff if you want.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Heatherb

      That looks good--thanks! Do you know how long it keeps? The problem I have at nights is that I don't have an hour simmer time, in addition to making it all. That's why opening a jar works. Lidia's recipes are great, though--I might have to pick up her cookbook.

      1. re: chowser

        No idea how long it keeps. I would assume if you freeze it, it would be fine. And I would imagine that if you made it on a Sunday, it would keep the better part of the following week at least. I know what you mean about not having an hour to cook when you get home. I try to eat healthy, but most of the time I'm exhausted after a 2-hour commute. Half the time I cave and head to the nearest fast food joint. And I love to cook!

        Lidia is my go-to on all things Italian. I have an uncle who I am pretty certain has a shrine to her in his home. Her stuff is tasty and accessible.

        1. re: chowser

          I routinely make sauce on the weekends and divide it into indivdual portions to freeze. It keeps very well and I can just take out one container a few days before I need it. I'm sure, though, that if you needed sauce and it wasn't defrosted, you could nuke it or even heat it slowly in a pan while the pasta water was boiling/cooking.

      2. I wouldn't call this quick, but it is very easy and good. This makes a huge amount of tomato sauce. I split it into smaller portions and freeze (It freezes very well).

        4 28oz cans of plum tomatoes
        1/2 cup olive oil
        4 oz. pork (I usually use a chop, but you can use any cut)
        6 TBS onion
        4 garlic cloves
        1 tsp salt
        12 leaves basil
        pinch oregano
        black pepper

        Remove whole tomatoes from can, reserve juice. Squeeze and crush tomatoes with hands, removing tough stem portion. Set aside.
        Place oil in large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add pork and cook five minutes. Remove pork. Add onion, cook 3 minutes. Add garlic, cook 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes, tomato juice and salt. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for one hour. Stir in basil, oregano and black pepper to taste.

        4 Replies
        1. re: QueenB

          QueenB, do you put the pork (chop) back in the sauce to simmer?

          1. re: Norm Man

            I don't usually, but I bet you could, as long as you remember to fish it out before serving. It would probably import some nice flavor.

            1. re: QueenB

              Does that mean that you don't eat the pork? Is it only for flavouring?

              1. re: Theresa

                If you leave the pork in the sauce, I imagine you could eat it, but it would probably be way overcooked.

                What I usually do, is cook the pork chop as the recipe says for flavoring, remove it before adding the tomatoes, then finish off cooking it either in the oven or microwave. Then, hubby takes it for lunch one day. That's if I use the chop. I've also used scraps of pork (cut off from the butt end of a huge rack of ribs) and they worked just as well.

                My grandma used to make her Italian gravy with a piece of pork and a piece of beef. Same concept. I'm pretty sure it's strictly there for the flavoring.

        2. Cooks Illustrated has a recipe for a quick tomato vodka cream sauce that is really good and easy. Every time I make it for and easy dinner wtih friends they rave about it. You can make the whole thing from scratch in 20 minutes or so. And it freezes pretty well. I don't know if this is the type of thing you are looking for, but if so let me know and I will post the recipe.

          3 Replies
          1. re: JennyHunter

            I would love the Cooks Illustrated recipe, if you can please post!!


            1. re: stacylyn

              Here is the recipe for tomato vodka cream sauce. Sometimes when I want to make it a little fancier for company, I add shrimp or lobster. This also doubles pretty well, but you woll need to increase the length of time you cook it for it to reduce well. It really is delicious and so easy.

              1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes or whole tomatoes (not packed in puree or sauce)
              2 medium cloves garlic , peeled
              3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
              1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
              1/2 cup vodka
              1 cup heavy cream
              Ground black pepper
              2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (about 8 leaves)
              1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
              1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
              1 pound pasta

              Process garlic through garlic press into small bowl; stir in 1 teaspoon water. Heat 2 tablespoons oil and garlic and red pepper flakes in 10-inch sauté pan over medium heat until fragrant but not brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes; simmer 5 minutes. Add vodka and simmer 5 minutes longer. Stir in cream, ground black pepper to taste, basil, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Transfer sauce to workbowl of food processor fitted with a steel blade; pulse to a coarse puree. Return sauce to pan; simmer over medium heat to thicken, 2 to 3 minutes.

              3. Meanwhile, cook pasta until al dente in large pot of boiling, salted water. Reserve 1/4 cup cooking water; drain pasta, and transfer it back to cooking pot. Mix in reserved cooking water, sauce, and remaining oil and salt; cook together over medium heat for 1 minutes, stirring constantly, and serve immediately.

              1. re: JennyHunter

                Thanks, Jenny!

                I actually did my own "version" of this last night.....before I got this post! I pretty much did the same recipe, except for the sugar....which it definitely needed, I think. Really yummy and quick recipe (I also added some frozen TJ's shrimp, which was good).

                Thanks again...

          2. I love the very simple Marcella recipe. 1 lg. can of Italian plum tomatoes, dump it in a pot, I add a whole stck of butter, she uses I think 6Tbs., and 1/2 and onion. I cut it in half across the middle and dump in the root end. Cook and mash with a potato masher to break up the tomatoes. Cook until the butter pools on the surface of the tomatoes. remove the onion and serve. Couold not be easier or simpler.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Candy

              yup. Could not be easier and very yummy.

            2. Here's a quick one. Sounds weird, but tastes great (if you like fish).

              Spaghetti and Tuna

              4 garlic cloves fried in OO. Be generous with the OO
              1 large can or two meduim sized cans of whole tomatoes. Tomatoes should be cut in 1/4, ie s/b chunky or simply use diced tomatoes
              Fresh basil.
              1 or more cans of tuna. I use in water, but someone recently told me that the tuna in oil was better. Either way do not drain juice. Heat through and do not overcook. The garlic will rehydrate once you add the liquid and tastes delicious along with tuna and tomatoes
              Serve over linguini or spaghetti.
              No cheese on this PLEASE

              1 Reply
              1. re: jenniebnyc

                I make something just like this...it's so easy and delicious. I do drain the canned tuna. I also add chopped oil-cured olives, capers, and hot red pepper flakes. Mine is sort of a take on puttanesca.

              2. I like Mario Batali's recipe, which can be made pretty quickly -- chop an onion and saute in olive oil, grate in a carrot, add a can of tomatoes, crushed by hand, and add some fresh or dried thyme, salt and pepper to taste. You can simmer it long, but it tastes fine pretty quickly -- in about the time it takes to boil pasta water and cook the pasta.

                1 Reply
                1. re: alaughingdog

                  I agree, this is a nice recipe. Also, Marcela Hazan's tomato butter and onion recipe is fantastic.

                2. I do Mario Batali's recipe as well. My only issue is the wateriness doesn't go away, and hand crushing the tomatoes does not produce a fine enough tomato chunk. I'd probably stick blender the final result, if I had one.


                  It keeps 1 week in the fridge, 6 months in the freezer.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: panoz

                    I use Mario's recipe as well. I don't use all the juice from the whole tomatoes, probably only half of what is in the can. That cuts down on the wateriness.

                    1. re: diverx99

                      yes, I do this too, squeeze the tomatoes over the can before dropping the chunks into the sauce -- then I add juice as needed.

                  2. For quick an easy, I would just saute in olive oil some minced garlic, salt, fresh ground pepper, and some fresh basil leaves. Before the garlic browns, and a can of your favorite crushed tomatoes or puree or a mix of both. Let it simmer in sautee pan until thoroughly heated, taste for seasoning, and your good to go.

                    I also do this when I'm making pizza.

                    1. an old classic is what we called russian meatloaf

                      it was ground beef, peas and onions in a tomato sauce add elbow mac and bake for a few minutes

                      1. These look great, everyone! I love that most are simple for those frazzled nights. Thanks for your help. I don't know why I didn't think of freezing it when I freeze everything else--good idea. I have CI and will check out the tomato vodka recipe. I need to go buy lots of tomatoes now. Too bad it's not summer so cans/boxes will have to do!

                        1. Can't use this one now but keepit in mind for tomato season...
                          Have a pot of hot cooked pasta ready.Saute a sliced garlic clove in olive oil until soft,turn off heat, add a few diced tomatoes and a good spoonful of ricotta cheese, toss in the pasta more EVOO and some shredded basil. Serve immediatly.

                          1. you must try this, and sorry, i do not know where i read the recipe.
                            on a cookie sheet, throw a few tomatoes, halved, cut side down, garlic cloves to taste, an onion halved, cut side down, and a green pepper if on hand. drizzle all with olive oil, s&p, roast in oven, throw in a blender with a bit of cream, fresh basil and butter if you want (i don't unless I want it to be extra rich) and voila; excellent sauce. I believe it was referred to as a tomato coulis.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: E.Kolliopoulos

                              Oh yes. I made something like this (without the cream) because I had heard it was a good sauce to have in the freezer. Preserving the wonderful August tomatoes for wintertime enjoyment, and so forth. Ha ha ha, none of it got anywhere *near* the freezer, it was too good to wait for!

                            2. For a better canned tomato product, try using tomato fillets rather than whole tomatoes. No need to drain them.

                              To make a very quick sauce, I actually use Classico pesto. It contains quality cheese, ripe basil and pine nuts, unlike even some imported ones.

                              So, I simply begin by preheating a saucepan. Then I add a generous tablespoon of the pesto, 1/2 a small onion and a pinch of crush chiles. Saute until onions are soft and then add a 28oz can of tomato fillets. It yields enough for 3-4 tasty portions, depending on how much sauce you like on your pasta.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: bogie

                                I've never seen tomato fillets. I'll keep an eye out for them--thanks!

                                Thanks everyone for the great suggestions. I can't wait to try them out. And, I'm especially looking forward to the summer when I can do them w/ fresh tomatoes.

                                1. re: bogie

                                  I just read the ingredients on the Classico pesto bottle...it actually sounds kind of gross. Partially hydrogenated oil, Torula yeast? whats that?

                                2. Not such a useful recipe this time of year but if you grow tomatoes or can get them fresh at a farmer's market in Aug-Oct, a great recipe is an uncooked tomato sauce.

                                  Rub a bowl with a clove of crushed garlic then mix in a few chopped tomatoes (skin, seeds and all; they really have to be ripe, preferably off the vine) with some ripped basil leaves, EVOO, salt and pepper and let rest for about 15 min. Mix this in with just-cooked pasta. Man this is just about my favorite!

                                  Save this recipe for next summer.

                                  1. I swear by that little box of cookd crushed tomatoes, Pomi. I can get it even in my crappy local grocery chain store. It is made from the freshest tomatoes (not usually available in the northeast in the winter!) and organic (saves peeling time as well).

                                    I just mix it in a little saucepan with fresh herb, garlic, olive oil, etc, and just warm it up.

                                    I also love that there is no salt added - jar sauces are too salty for me!

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: pannacotta

                                      I can not figure out what this means. Just a little dense this morning. What "little box" are you referring to?

                                      1. re: yayadave

                                        Pomi sells tomatoes in boxes - like a Parmalat box.

                                        1. re: MMRuth

                                          Thank you. I don't remember ever seeing this, but now I'll look, try.

                                    2. I take italian sausage (about 4-6) and a piece of salt pork (looks like bacon), and brown (about 10 min) in olive oil, add 3-4 chopped, fresh garlic cloves (do not brown the garlic). Add 1/2 cup white wine, stir. Add 1 small can of paste, and cook for 10 min. Add 1 large can of Pastene Kitchen Ready, a pinch of red crushed pepper, let simmer for about 1 hr. Add 1 tablespoon kosher salt, and a couple of turns of fresh ground black pepper. Stir.