If you have tomato sauce, you have dinner. Simmer it and poach an egg in it. Poach fish in it. Warm meatballs in it. Pour it over just-boiled pasta. Simply sop it up with bread. Done.
It's easy to turn to jarred sauces, but it's just as easy (and arguably more satisfying) to make your own. You need little more than tomatoes (fresh or canned) and a little butter or oil. Any other additions—a halved onion, like Marcella Hazan; a freckling of capers; fat handfuls of basil; more garlic than you think is a good idea—are up to you.
Not sure where to start? Here are 15 of our most favorite tomato sauces:
If your pantry's bare (or you just need an all-purpose workhorse):
If you want fresh sauce but don't want to stand over the stove:
If eggs trump pasta when it comes to sauce accompaniments:
If you need a fresh sauce about 20 minutes from now:
If you want a Sunday-night meat sauce worthy of white tablecloths and garlic bread:
If you've got an eggplant lying around, too:
If you want something more Indian-leaning than Italian:
If no-cook's the name of the game:
Make the one on the left with canned tomatoes, and the one on the right with fresh!
If it's January (or all you have on hand are canned 'maters):
If you want super-concentrated tomato flavor:
If you want something that could go from pasta to grain salad to hors d'oeuvre to sandwich topper:
If sauce sounds less interesting than chunks of mingling roasted good things:
If you've got a mind to clean out the pantry:
If you're willing to push the definition of "sauce" to include the sweet and jammy:
What's your idea of the perfect tomato sauce? Chunky? Smooth? Spicy? Butter-gilded? Tell us in the comments.