Runners eat a lot of pasta—and that means we eat a lot of tomato sauce, too. But who’s got time to make their own sauce from scratch? With this recipe, you do! In the time it takes to boil a pot of water and cook your pasta, you can throw together a delicious, homemade tomato sauce that is far and away tastier than anything from a jar. All you need are a few ingredients that you probably have in your kitchen right now. (If you don’t, take note and make these foods staples in your cupboard going forward.)
The key ingredient in any tomato sauce is, of course, the tomatoes. So it’s worth it to splurge on high-quality canned tomatoes. If possible, buy organic versions because they contain more cancer-fighting lycopene than conventionally grown varieties. For this recipe, you can use whole or crushed tomatoes—I prefer the latter for convenience, but if you use whole, simply pour the tomatoes into a bowl and crush gently with your hands before cooking. If you have a little extra time, you can double (or even triple!) the recipe and freeze the sauce in one-cup portions. Next time you’re cooking up pasta, pizza, or lasagna, just defrost a container in the microwave—you’ll never have to rely on the jarred stuff again.
Total time: 30 minutes
Makes 6 servings
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, peeled
1 small dried red chili pepper, deseeded (optional)
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
450g cooked hot pasta (any hardy shape, such as spaghetti or rigatoni)
½ cup reserved hot pasta cooking water
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
In a large pan, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Using a small knife, score an “X” into the top and bottom of each garlic clove, leaving the cloves in one piece (this allows the garlic flavour to infuse the sauce while also making it easy to remove the cloves at the end of cooking).
When the oil is hot, add the garlic and chili pepper (if using) to the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the garlic is lightly browned and fragrant, and the pepper slightly darkened. Remove the pepper and discard.
Add the tomatoes, salt, and oregano, and stir well. Raise the heat to medium and bring the sauce to a fast-bubbling simmer. Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer gently for 20 minutes. Remove the garlic cloves and discard.
To serve, toss the hot, cooked pasta with the tomato sauce. Stir in the 1/2 cup reserved pasta cooking water (the starches left in the water give the sauce a silky texture and help the pasta absorb the sauce). Sprinkle in plenty of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and toss to combine.