Every person knows one. A picky eater. I used to be one (except overripe bananas, oysters, octopus and Marmite are still problematic). I’m married to a picky eater (no nuts in his food). I am friends with one (no onions except red onions). I work with one (tomato sauce without bits of things in it).
It’s my co-worker who has inspired this post for a simple pasta sauce that doesn’t have chunks or bits. I thought posting this might help suffering spouses, parents, and friends of picky eaters create a homemade pasta sauce bursting with flavour but without scary chunky bits that will terrorize the picky eater.
This recipe also happens to be my regular week-night go to for its simplicity, flexibility and speed. Once you have the ingredients on hand, you can whip this tomato sauce up in the time it takes to open a store-bought jar and heat it up.
What You Will Need:
1 can (28 fl oz) Italian peeled tomatoes
1 – 2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp garlic granules or powder
1 tsp onion powder
1.5 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp chili flakes
1/4 tsp fennel seed
1 tsp sugar
Salt and Pepper to taste
To make the sauce:
Glug the olive oil in a pot or pan. Add the can of tomatoes. Add the rest of the ingredients. Heat it up until it bubbles. I whiz it up until it is smooth using an immersion blender. You can do the whizzing when the sauce is still cold, or when it’s hot. It just doesn’t matter.
Too easy, right?
The joy of this recipe is you can change it however you like. Don’t like fennel? Don’t put it in. Like more heat? Add more chili flakes! Looking for low fat? Eliminate the olive oil. Looking for a rose sauce? Add a few glugs of cream. Wants something more rustic? Don’t blend it. Don’t have Italian Seasoning? Add dried basil and oregano.
The sauce works well with any pasta and protein. My favourite is Italian Sausage. While the sauce is burbling on the stove, I’ll cook up a package of Italian sausage. When it’s done, I slice it thinly, mix it in with the tomato sauce and the cooked pasta, and cover generously in grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Our other protein favourite is chicken breasts. While the sauce is burbling, put chicken breasts in a big bowl. Add about a tbsp of olive oil, juice of half a lemon, a generous sprinkling of Italian seasoning. Toss till covered. Set oven to 350F. When the oven is ready, place the chicken breasts on a piece of parchment paper in a pan (I use an old Corning casserole dish) and place in the oven for 30 minutes. When it’s done, take it out and serve the breast whole, or sliced thinly. It just doesn’t matter.
The important thing to take away from this post, is that this is The Most Flexible Tomato Sauce In the World.
If you can’t find Italian peeled tomatoes use any can of whole, strained or diced tomatoes.
If you poo-poo spices from the cupboard, go right ahead and chop and saute an onion and smashed garlic. Roll and julienne that fresh basil. Pick and rub that fresh thyme, marjoram and oregano.
Add good music, a few candles and a bottle of wine, and instantly you go from hurried weeknight dinner to a super cool, laid back evening.
I hope you give this recipe a try. I’d like to hear about your experience and/or your favourite tomato sauces!