Quick Fresh Tomato Sauce for Spaghetti
This recipe is to be filed under my category For My Kids, recipes I’m adding for when my girls leave home.
Girls, this sauce as you know it’s a good one to have to hand and can be done pretty much the time it takes to put the pan of water on for the pasta…kind of depends how quick you are at chopping.
Although this recipe is in complete contrast to my Slow Fresh Tomato Sauce the same principal still applies: very important to have ripe tomatoes. And the other important rule is never refrigerate unripe tomatoes – but you should know this by now…and if you don’t, I have failed somewhere along the line.
If you keep tomatoes on the windowsill ripening you’ll always have a quick meal in no time.
The other note about this sauce is that it tastes better with longer thin pasta like spaghetti or linguini than short shaped pasta like penne. The tomatoes cooking so quickly have a very mild delicate flavour which tastes better when clinging on to thin strands of pasta because there’s less ratio of flour to sauce.
How to make fresh tomato sauce
This recipe makes enough sauce for 4-5 people, you’ll need 700g – 1kg of tomatoes. If you’re making the sauce for only two, you still should use 500g (1 lb) of tomatoes because by the time you skin them you’ll end up with far less.
Put the tomatoes in a large bowl and pour a kettle full of boiling water over them. Let them sit in the hot water for 30 seconds – 1 minute, depending how ripe.
Take them out and if you prick them with the end of a sharp knife you should see the skin break straight away.
Chop them roughly.
Put the pan for the pasta on. Add the salt now because the water will boil faster. Cover the pan with the lid, again because it will boil faster.
Peel and chop 1 onion. Add to a large shallow pan, a large frying pan with deep sides is good.
Add the extra virgin olive oil to the onion and start cooking the onions on medium heat.
Peel and chop 2 cloves of garlic.
You should start hearing a good sizzling from the onions turn the heat down so not to burn them but still hot enough to hear them cooking away.
I hope by now you’ve remembered to put the exhaust fan on!
Don’t walk away from this onion because it will burn as soon as you do.
You’ll see it change to a golden colour and soften. Add the chopped garlic and stir it in.
Take your basil bunch and chops the stalk end into tiny pieces, you’re using half of the bunch for now…
…like this. Leave the other end of the bunch until the sauce is ready.
Add the tomatoes, chopped basil, salt and pepper to the onion.
Stir it in and turn the heat up to start the tomatoes cooking.
Oh, and don’t forget to add the parsley. You can add it towards the end but since G. resents herbs I cook them down a bit.
The sauce should be bubbling slowly away now, stir it now and again to stop the bottom of the sauce catching and burning.
By this time your pasta pan should be ready, with a rolling boil.
Add the spaghetti.
As you know I break the spaghetti in half but here I’ve put it in whole in case any Italians are reading this and feel like lynching me. If you add it whole you’ll need to push it down the half that sticks out.
The spaghetti or any other pasta for that matter, will not stick together if you follow this simple rule; always stir the pasta once it’s gone into boiling water until the water starts to come up to boil again. Stir it with a long fork separating the strands or shapes as you stir. Once the water is boiling again on a nice steady medium boil you can stop stirring. The strands or shapes will be surrounded by the bubbling water and not cling on to each other. The past won’t stick.
Now look at the sauce, it may appear to be have enough liquid but often sauces like this mislead, the water will rise to the top while the solid parts get stuck to the bottom. Stir and check how dry/wet the sauce is.
The pasta will cook before the time the instructions on the packet say, they normally instruct to cook the pasta for 10 mins, but it will be done in 7-8 minutes. You want this pasta to be on the slightly under-cooked side because it will finish off cooking in the sauce.
Here below was the pasta after 4-5 minutes and it was far too hard, I could tell just by looking at it without tasting it and you’ll be able to do that too with experience. In the meantime taste it to check. I could see the strands were still too stiff and unyielding and hard looking.
The sauce in this wide pan will be drying out and most of the liquid will evaporate, you’ll need to add a ladle full of the pasta water.
The pasta water is perfect for sauces as it will be starchy and will have the flavour of the pasta.
You want enough water to make the sauce watery but not too much.
I can see the tomatoes well enough, but when I push them to the side there’s plenty of liquid underneath. That’s how much liquid you want in this sauce.
Another minute to a minute and a half, the pasta was now ready to be drained and added to the sauce. It was soft and yielding but still had a very starchy bite to it.
You don’t want it to be perfect for eating right now, it needs to be harder than that, because when adding to the sauce it will cook further and it will be taking in the sauce absorbing all those flavours.
Drain. And G. use a colander not a sieve, I promise the pasta won’t escape through the holes of the colander.
Add to the sauce.
Stir it in well. You can add the basil now or leave until serving, you all like it when it’s wilted.
Keep it in the pan for one minute make sure you’ve stirred it to get as many of the strands as possible covered in the sauce and absorb the sauce.
Taste again the pasta to make sure it’s cooked. If you’ve made an error and it’s still too hard, cover the pan put it on low heat and let it finish off.
You should not have any liquid left in the bottom of the pan. So now all the flavour has gone into the sauce. This is also why you have to use bronze-die pasta as it will absorb the liquid nicely. Stay away from shiny-surface looking pasta.
Serve. If you putting the pasta into a serving dish it’s good to warm the dish first in hot water from the kettle.
Quick Fresh Tomato Sauce Spaghetti
- 700g – 1 kg ripe medium-large tomatoes
- 2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 handful of fresh basil (1 x 30g packs in supermarkets)
- 1 small handful fresh parsley (I usually use flat leaf)
- 1 teaspoon salt (for sauce)
- pepper or chilli
- 400g – 500g spaghetti, bronze die or any you can see has a rough texture
- Salt for pasta 2 generous teaspoons for those large pans I use to cook pasta
Put the tomatoes in a large bowl and pour a kettle full of boiling water over them. Let them sit in the hot water for 30 seconds – 1 minute, depending how ripe. Take them out and if you prick them with the end of a sharp knife you should see the skin break. Chop the tomatoes roughly. Put the pan for the pasta on. Add the salt now and cover pan because the water will boil faster.
Add the chopped onion with the oil to a large shallow pan, a large frying pan with deep sides is good. Start cooking the onion on medium heat, once the onion starts to sizzle turn the heat down a little to stop them from burning, you want them to be a golden colour and soften, appearing more translucent. Add the chopped garlic and cook it for a minute. Chop half of the basil bunch from the stalk end, and chop all of the parsley. Add the tomatoes, salt, freshly ground pepper or chilli, chopped basil and all of the parsley. Mix it well and bring up the heat to start the tomatoes cooking. Once sauce comes to boil then you can turn the heat down to an even low bubbling sauce. Don’t forget to stir the sauce now and again.
The water should be ready for the pasta, add the spaghetti and stir it as I describe above. Cook the pasta until it’s soft but not quite ready. At this point your sauce may need some of the pasta water, check and add it. Then you can drain the pasta well and throw it into the sauce. Mix it well, until all the spaghetti strands are covered with sauce. Chop and mix in the rest of the basil. Cook for a minute and by the end the sauce should be all absorbed by the pasta.