Published May 1, 1997.
We test the best method for making a quick, simple pasta sauce using only canned tomatoes, garlic, salt, olive oil, a dash of sugar, and basil.
The making of tomato sauce is often thought of as an all-day affair.
A simple recipe for tomato sauce that would be ready in close to the time it takes to boil water and cook pasta.
Given that good fresh tomatoes are a rare commodity and that we wanted a sauce that home cooks could use year-round, we decided to use canned tomatoes. Diced tomatoes are very convenient because you can dump the entire contents of the can into the pot; with whole tomatoes, using all of the packing liquid resulted in a substantially thinner sauce. After conducting a number of tests, we determined the crucial ingredients to be garlic, fresh basil, olive oil, salt, and sugar. Treatment of the garlic warranted special attention. Recipes with browned garlic often resulted in a bitter sauce. In a recent story, we had discovered that a garlic puree diluted with water and sautéed briefly in olive oil provided a mild, even garlic flavor while greatly reducing the possibility of overcooking the garlic. This proved to be the best method for the tomato sauce.list of recipes