3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
pinch hot red pepper flakes
2 (28 ounce) cans of crushed tomatoes OR 6 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
1/2 - 1 teaspoon salt
† teaspoon sugar (optional)
†cup chopped fresh parsley or basil
Add the olive oil, garlic and hot red pepper flakes to a deep sautť pan or Dutch oven, and then heat the pan over medium heat. Cook gently until the garlic is fragrant, but do not brown.
Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 20 Ė 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and sugar if desired (you may find it needs no sweetening.) Stir in the fresh parsley or basil.
Serve over pasta or in any number of dishes.
Serves 8 to 10
†This is an important sauce to have in any cookís repertoire. Itís easy to put together and nice to have on hand. Donít save it just for pasta Ė itís good with meats and fish as well.
The first thing youíll notice about this recipe is that it does not call for the pan to be pre-heated. Heating the oil and garlic with the pan (instead of pre-heating the pan) allows a more gentle garlic taste to flavor the oil. You may find three tablespoons of olive oil a lot to use. You can cut down on the olive oil, but it adds flavor as well as a smooth texture to the finished sauce. If flavor is at the forefront of my mind, I always use the full 3 tablespoons. If Iím thinking of my waistline, however, I tend to cut back. Whether to use crushed or canned diced tomatoes is often just a matter of personal preference. I use crushed tomatoes in a basic marinara. When I want actual chunks of tomato in my sauce, I go for the diced variety, as youíll see in the subsequent recipes. Using fresh tomatoes is certainly an option, but be sure to use ripe tomatoes. Making a marinara is a great way to use up tomatoes at the end of the season if you have a surplus on hand, and if you properly can or freeze the sauce, you will be able to enjoy them well into winter. Pay attention to the heat under the pan while it simmers. You donít want the heat too high and the sauce boiling. A boiled sauce will loose too much liquid and be thick and bitter. If this happens by accident, add a little water to loosen the sauce.