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Family Fun: Summery Tomato Pasta for Winter

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Posted by : Sue Riedl, Fri, Jan 11 2013

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A quick simmer of onion, garlic and tomato makes for a simple and cheerful meal — one that’s also budget-conscious. Sometimes I feel guilt about the amount of last-minute pasta dinners we have (always pasta in the pantry!), but never when I make it with this sauce. It's one of those dishes that fills the house with a wonderful, aromatic anticipation and hints of warm, summer days, regardless of the season.

Tomato_Pasta

Recipe: Easy Tomato Sauce
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
2 teaspoons good olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
4 pints cherry tomatoes
2 tbsp fresh, chopped basil
½ teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
fresh ground pepper

Tomato_Pasta_Olive_Oil

Start by heating some good olive oil (about 2 teaspoons) in a large, non-stick skillet; gently over medium heat. (Yes, my picture is showing off a lovely hostess gift — beautiful Italian first-press olive oil!)

Tomato_Pasta_Onions

Add a finely chopped onion, preferably medium-size though whatever you have handy is fine. You can hand-chop but, as a person who starts to weep just peeling an onion, I love my chopper. For a fine dice, it is far faster to wash this equipment than to chop the onion yourself. (At least, it is for me.)

Tomato_Pasta_Chopped_Onion

Grab a few cloves of garlic, 3-4 is a nice amount: flavorful but not overwhelming. You'll want to mince them...

Tomato_Pasta_Garlic

...and that's where a handy-dandy garlic press comes in. As with the onions, I can do this by hand — but why? We're talking efficiency, here! Add the pressed garlic to the chopped onion.

Tomato_Pasta_Tomatoes

Once the onion and garlic are softened and fragrant, add four pints cherry tomatoes.

Tomato_Pasta_Simmer

Keep the heat on med-med high and, over about 20 minutes, the tomatoes will break down and pop, releasing their juices. I also squash them a bit with my wooden spoon. ( Kind of like popping bubble wrap: addictive and fun — but watch for squirting!)

Tomato_Pasta_Basil

Once the sauce base is cooked down and merrily simmering, you can add about 4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (chop as fine or rough as you like). Now, season with about 1 teaspoon salt and fresh ground pepper. In the winter I usually add about 1/ 2 a teaspoon of sugar, just to round off the acidity.

Tomato_Pasta_Plated

This sauce deserves a good pasta, so spend a little extra and get something that will cook to al dente — soft, with just a bit of bite in the centre. Serve drizzled with a little more of that good olive oil. You can also make a big batch in advance for a great weeknight meal (serves 4 generously) with leftovers for lunch the next day.


Recipe: Easy Tomato Sauce
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
2 teaspoons good olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
4 pints cherry tomatoes
2 tbsp fresh, chopped basil
½ teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
fresh ground pepper

Instructions 

  1. Heat olive oil over medium in a large non stick skillet.
  2. Add onion and garlic and cook till softened and fragrant.
  3. Add the tomatoes. Cook on medium to medium-high for about 25 minutes or until the tomato skins have split and released their juice. You can gently pop stubborn hold-outs with a fork.
  4. Mix in your basil.
  5. Add the sugar, salt and pepper. Adjust to taste. Simmer 5 more minutes and serve.

 

Sue_RiedlSue Riedl is a Toronto-based food writer with a passion for cheese who writes a column called The Spread for The Globe and Mail. She loves to push stinky cheese on her 4-year-old. 

 

 

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Posted: by Sue Riedl

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