Peel the tomatoes and coarsely chop them.
Put 4 Tbs. of the olive oil, the parsley, and garlic in a 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. When the garlic and parsley begin to sizzle, add the tomatoes and 1-3/4 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and gently simmer, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have broken down and are thick and saucy, 35 to 70 minutes, depending on how much liquid the tomatoes release. Toss with cooked pasta and the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil and serve.
The sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 2 to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to use it, reheat and toss with cooked pasta and the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil.
Fried zucchini, delicious on its own, also makes a great addition to tomato sauce. Cut 1-1/2 lb. zucchini into narrow sticks 2- to 3-inches long and fry them in plenty of vegetable oil over high heat until golden. Transfer to paper towels to drain, sprinkle lightly with fine sea salt, add to the tomato sauce with 1-1/2 Tbs. chopped fresh mint, and toss with pasta.
The sweet and savory flavors of peas and prosciutto balance each other perfectly. In a 12-inch skillet, cook 1/3 cup finely chopped onion in 1-1/2 Tbs. olive oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden-brown, about 3 minutes. Cut a
-inch-thick slice of prosciutto (about 4 oz.) into 2-inch strips and add to the pan; cook, stirring, until the prosciutto has lost its raw color, about 2 minutes. Add 9 oz. frozen peas and about 3/4 cup water, and cook, covered, until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain, mix into the tomato sauce, and toss with pasta.
Dried porcini mushrooms add deep flavor. I like combining them with fresh shiitake mushrooms for texture. Soak 1-1/2 oz. dried porcini in a bowl of hot water for at least 15 minutes; remove, squeezing the liquid back into the bowl, and coarsely chop. Strain the soaking liquid through a fine sieve lined with a paper towel and set aside. Heat 1-1/2 Tbs. olive oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat and add the porcini and 1 cup thinly sliced shiitake. Season with 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper and pour in the mushroom soaking liquid. Cook until the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes, then mix into the tomato sauce, and toss with pasta.
Olives and oregano are a dead simple but classic pairing. Add 1/3 cup slivered Kalamata olives and 1 Tbs. chopped fresh oregano to the tomato sauce and toss with pasta.
Though it may seem odd to put beans in a pasta sauce, chickpeas add substance. Add 1-1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (from a 15-oz. can) and 1-1/2 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary to the tomato sauce, cook for about 5 minutes, and then toss with pasta.
nutrition information (per serving):
per 1/3 cup;
Photo: Scott Phillips