Pomodoro Sauce

Pomodoro (Tomato) Sauce

Pasta and red sauce, simple and divine.
Pomodoro sauce, tomato sauce, red sauce - whatever you want to call it, it's delicious. It's beauty lies in it's simplicity. And that's where so many cooks go wrong.

When I want pomodoro sauce, I want the tomatoes to sing through. Don't get me wrong, I love slow cooked red sauces, with their depth and intensity, but to me, pomodoro sauce is really the opposite. Quick cooked, no deep caramelization or long reductions, no addition of meat or stock, no added sweeteners (sugar/honey) or thickeners (milk/cream/cheese). This is about simple, fresh tomato flavor, although I never use fresh tomatoes to make it. I really enjoyed Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onions for it's lovely, sweet, tomato flavor, but when it comes to freshness, I want to highlight the brightness and acidity, so I use extra virgin olive oil, onions, garlic, maybe a splash of dry white wine (never red in pomodoro, and definitely not necessary) and nothing else. Final garnishes of fresh basil and grated cheese, and you've got one of life's greatest pleasures to adorn a plate of pasta.

The Boozy Epicure's Pomodoro Sauce
This recipe covers 6 to 8 oz of pasta perfectly, ample portions for two. It is easily scaled up. It is very important that you chop or slice your garlic. This is one recipe where a garlic press will give you much too strong of a garlic flavor.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 can of whole peeled tomatoes and their juice
1/2 cup of dry white wine (optional)
salt/pepper to taste
Fresh basil, torn for garnish
Fresh grated parmigiano reggiano, for garnish

Start by sweating the onion in a little (about 1 tbslp) olive oil. One the onions are transluscent, add the garlic and cook for just one more minute so the garlic gets started cooking and perfuming the oil, but nothing is browning. If you are using white wine, add it now, and cook over medium heat until the pan is almost dry. Then add your canned tomatoes and their juice. I like to crush the tomatoes with my hands or slice them using kitchen shears. You can also just break up the tomatoes with a spoon, but please don't process or puree them, the sauce is nice with little chunks of tomato.

Bring this up to a simmer and let it cook together about 20 minutes so it reduces just a little but keeps that lovely bright flavor. I usually put my pasta water on right when I start the simmer.

When your sauce is almost done and your pasta has just one minute left, turn the pan up to medium and add your drained pasta* (reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.) Let the pasta cook in the sauce just for a minute or two to make sure it is coated evenly and begins to absorb the sauce. If the pan gets too dry, add a little of the pasta cooking water to keep it the consistency you want. Then pull the pan off the heat, throw in a little torn basil (you can cut or chiffonade the basil, but tearing it feels more homey to me) and a glug (maybe 2 tbslp) of extra virgin olive oil to finish the pasta. Stir quickly, plate, and top with freshly grated parmigiano reggiano and more torn basil.

*I used bucatini above because it's what I had at home. Thin spaghetti is my favorite with this sauce. It's also lovely on cheese ravioli.

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