How to Make a Simple and Healthy Pasta Sauce
By Ryan Letterman
Not all of us have the privilege of being Italian. It seems every Italian has the secret to making a tasty tomato sauce. Being one myself, of course I have several sauces up my sleeve. But not everyone has time to spend on a sauce that takes hours to prepare.
Simmering a sauce to perfection takes time. Time comes to a standstill while you wait for the sauce to reach the just the right consistency. But when you're hungry, who has the time to wait? With a few simple household ingredients, I can teach you how to make a fresh garden sauce that's takes less than 30 minutes to make.
To make this tasty pasta sauce all you need is four basic ingredients:
- 1 bunch cherry tomatoes
- 1 small yellow onion
- 1 clove garlic
- 2-3 TBSP olive oil
Start by heating a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Drizzle the pan with olive oil and turn the pan about to evenly coat the bottom. Turn down the heat under the skillet a bit. While the olive oil is slowly heating, cut up your vegetables.
Grab the cherry tomatoes and a cutting board. Slice the tomatoes into quarters and set them aside. Don't squeeze out any of the seeds or extra juices. This is going to add a lot of flavor and nutrition to your sauce.
Dice up the onion. Now your olive oil should be the right temperature to add the tomatoes and onions. Be sure the pan is not so hot that it burns the onions.
Grab a hold of the largest clove of garlic you can lay your hands on. If you have no garlic, a few sprinkles of garlic powder will suffice, though it really isn't as good as the real thing. If you did find the garlic, put it on the cutting board and give it a good press with the flat side of a knife. Mince the smashed garlic finely and add it to the sauce.
Many other vegetables make a great addition to this fresh sauce. Zucchini, squash, olives, bell peppers, or even spinach can really add another dimension to the texture and taste of the sauce. I use the hot red peppers my grandfather grows. Those things are dangerously hot, but you can substitute crushed red pepper flakes out of a jar to stay on the safe side.
Mix up all the vegetables in the frying pan. They need a good coating of olive oil to cook properly. Now comes the waiting. Every few minutes, come back and check on your sauce.
The tomatoes take only a few minutes to wilt - wilting takes place as the juice seeps out. After ten minutes, the onions will be translucent and the tomatoes amorphous. Once you have stirred the sauce, always remember to put the lid back on the skillet. Condensation will keep the liquids from drying up thus burning the sauce.
Once the onions are tender and it looks like you've got a real sauce going, remove the lid. Simmer the sauce on medium for a few minutes to heat up and congeal the parts of the sauce that are too watery. By the way, never add water to tomato sauce. The goal is to reduce and thicken the juices.
Now throw your favorite pasta in a huge pot of boiling salted water, get out the colander and you are almost ready to eat. Put some parmigiano reggiano cheese on top of the pasta and sauce and place a slice or two of garlic bread on your plate. This sauce will definitely bring out the Italiano in you even if there really isn't any. You will never buy another jar of pasta sauce.
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