Well, you might have noticed I use multiple Tomato Sauces – but this is a fast and easy one with simple pantry ingredients. It comes in handy and it can be done about the time your pasta is finished.
Keep in mind that I did count an average cost for canned tomatoes, but if you’re savvy with coupons and sales, you can often pick them up for free.
Quick Tomato Sauce makes 3 cups (adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup grated onion, from 1 medium onion
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
- 1 (28-ounce) can tomatoes with juice – pulse in blender or food processor
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves or two teaspoons dried
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- Ground black pepper
Heat oil in medium saucepan. Add onion, oregano, and ½ teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated and onion is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes and sugar; increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened slightly, about 15 – 20 minutes. Off heat, stir in basil and additional oil; season with salt and pepper. Serve.
My note: Grating the onion makes the recipe go really fast and reduces the need to simmer longer and mellow out the flavor.
For pricing, remember to use your coupon matching sites for your local stores. My favorite is Pocket Your Dollars in my area, but every store has a group of enthusiastic couponers who can point you to the best bargains. Don’t be discouraged if your prices are higher at first – just keep shopping the best sales and follow the strategies and you’ll get there! Check under Saving on Basic Ingredients for more detailed information and storage hints – use <control f> to search each page to bring you to the item you want to check out.
I often double or even triple this recipe – just use a large, wide pan – and reduce it longer. I portion out and freeze. Three cups is a good size for most pasta dishes.
- Whole Tomatoes: For the greatest versatility, I’ll generally buy plain whole tomatoes, but I don’t really mind if I can get the other varieties cheaper. I’ll crush them myself, by hand, removing any hard bits around the stem. (Watch for squirters, and don’t do this while wearing a white blouse!) Sometimes I’ll throw them in the blender or food processor. I like to buy the larger cans as they are generally inexpensive – I’ll put what I don’t use in a Ziploc bag in the freezer, labelled. If I’m not using the juice, I always measure and put in a Ziploc bag and use it instead of tomato juice in the occasional casserole or when making meatloaf, stew or soup. Bought October 2011, 8 cans of 15 ounce Red Gold tomatoes for free, 6 29 oz cans of Red Gold Tomatoes for 59 cents each. Cost: (I’ll go with the higher price) $.59
- Garlic: Runs around 59 to 99 cents a head in my area in the boxes. It can be a little tricky to discern the best prices because it can also be bought by the pound, and generally you’ll pay less this way. I do cheat and buy a jar off season. I hang my head in shame, but to tell you the truth for most dishes, I can’t discern a difference – if I were making a dish solely based on garlic flavor, of course I’ll buy the fresh, but for any longer simmering sauces or dishes it doesn’t matter that much. This is of course, a home cook perspective, not a Chef’s…it’s also a time saver – how long does it take to peel and chop garlic? Not long, but it might be enough to slow me down on nights when timing is already an issue. I’ll also use the oil it was packed in to brush garlic bread or crostini. Cost: about 3 cents.
- Onions: Usually cheapest in the fall, I bought last at 33 cents a pound. I generally look for larger bags as they have larger onions; less time peeling. I’ll also stock up because they keep for quite a long time. Do not keep them next to your potatoes, however.Whenever I peel my onions, I save the tops and bottoms and skin for my stock. If I only need a partial onion, I’ll often just saute up the whole thing and put the excess in a zip bag in my freezer for a later use. This saves that odd 1/2 onion lurking around in the fridge, getting stronger and drying out. Update: It’s spring now, and I’m paying 66 cents for two pound at Aldi’s. An onioin is about 5 ounces, cost: 10 cents.
- Other ingredients: negligible – but do grow you basic herbs in your garden or window!
Put your Own Spin on It:
The beauty of making your own sauce is you can play with the ingredients any way you’d like. Add a little oregano, a few red pepper flakes or your favorite ingredients.
My other favorite sauce: Quick Marinara
My son’s favorite dish: Baked Ziti