Steve’s Perfectly Simple Tomato Sauce

This staple can be used in so many ways. If you have a can of tomatoes and some pasta on hand, you have the beginnings of a perfectly simple meal. Toss in some fresh vegetable, sprinkle with cheese and you’re all set!


1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 28-ounce can best-quality tomatoes, pulsed in a blender (San Marazano, without citrus juice, is my choice but whatever you have on hand will do!)
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 sprig of fresh basil (optional)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (optional)


1. Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Swirl around the olive oil to coat the pan. When the oil is hot, add garlic and red pepper flakes. Stir constantly for 30 seconds, just long enough to release the garlic’s fragrance and transform it slightly from its raw state. Do not cook to golden.

2. Raise the heat to high and stir in the tomatoes and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. In the last 5 minutes of cooking, add the basil sprig, if using. Remove the basil before serving and swirl in butter.

Steve’s Perfectly Simple Tomato Sauce

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