How do you make a tomato based pasta sauce?

Note that I do not like canned tomato sauce. I think it's the strong concentrated tomato paste and the oregano inside it that makes me strongly dislike it, so a tomato based sauce that doesn't have that taste would be great. Also the simpler the better because I'm and idiot when it comes to cooking.

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11 Comments

AntoniaJames May 17, 2016
I use Cento San Marzano tomatoes in the "Genius" Ina Garten roasted tomato vodka sauce and in the "Genius" Marcella Hazan tomato + onion + butter sauce, both here on Food52. In fact, I make double batches and stock my freezer with both, replenishing *before* the last container is used. They are that good. First rate, highly recommended.
Incidentally, I find the Cento tomatoes far superior for making sauce than virtually all of the fresh tomatoes we get in Northern CA. Just saying . . . . ;o)
 
Smaug May 17, 2016
You pretty much have to grow your own (or know someone who does) to get a good tomato anymore- the stores are hopeless, and even at the farmer's market they are generally picked pretty green.
 
sexyLAMBCHOPx May 17, 2016
If you're looking for a basic red sauce (marinara) this recipe is a good one: http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1015987-classic-marinara-sauce

Once you've made it it's easy to adapt to suit your tastes and freezes very well.
 
My F. May 17, 2016
When it isn't tomato season I like to make tomato sauce with cherry/grape tomatoes because they are usually the highest quality/most consistent hothouse variety available near me. I know some people have a problem with the little bits of skin this results in (but the skin is where most of the fiber and glutamates are). If you prefer skinless, I also like the Pomi brand boxed tomatoes.

I usually follow the same basic process as YGC above, using onions or shallots instead of garlic sometimes. Dried oregano and/or fresh rosemary add a deeper flavor than basil, you can also add a splash of wine, pinch of sugar, paprika, balsamic vinegar, etc. Practice the basic recipe then figure out which aromatics and add-ins you prefer.

(Also, sometimes, if I have extra time I bake my sauce. It concentrates the flavor in a sweeter way without sugar and needs less cleaning-up afterwards. htpp://www.myfriendmaillard.com)
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Smaug May 17, 2016
If you want to make sauce with cherry tomatoes, which I wouldn't really recommend, the skins are easily removed with a food mill.
 
pierino May 17, 2016
Oreta di Vita, who is to Roman cooking what Marcela Hazan was to Venetian, use cherry tomatoes (pomodorini) with the skin on. Unless you're fussy about the skin they are best when they are barely cooked. Di Vita wants you to taste tomato. In one of her recipes the cherry tomatoes are halved, salted and tossed with basil and left to marinade for an hour. Hot pasta is then added. They are also good with small clams.
 

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Susan W. May 16, 2016
This one is delicious and easy. Don't let the butter scare you. It uses whole canned tomatoes with the sauce they are in not cans of tomato sauce which is different. If you can, use the canned San Marzano tomatoes.

https://food52.com/recipes/13722-marcella-hazan-s-tomato-sauce-with-onion-and-butter
 
pierino May 17, 2016
Please note that what is sold in most stores as San Marzano really is not. It's used as a brand name in the US and the tomatoes are grown in Arizona. Read the label to find the imported ones from Italy. It's the volcanic soil in the area of Naples that gives them their unique quality. Kind of like Sophia Loren.
Also, tomato paste has absolutely no place in good tomato sauce. Anchovies on the other hand...well, it's technically not "marinara" without them.
 
Susan W. May 17, 2016
Very true Pierino. The ones I purchase are certified and speedy, but worth every Euro. See what I did there?
 
Smaug May 17, 2016
"Cento" brand tomatoes are pretty easy to find, at least in my area- the whole tomatoes are from Italy, but their diced and crushed tomatoes are domestic. Other brands are becoming easier to find however.
 
Susan W. May 17, 2016
@smaug, yes, Cento is the brand I purchase. Whole tomatoes only for any recipe. The others aren't certified.
 
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