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Quick Southern Italian Tomato Sauce

This is one of the quickest and most humbly delicious tomato sauces you can make. You can sieve it and use it as a basic sauce for all manner of dried pasta. Unsieved, it is very chunky and thick and thus suitable for ribbon or strand pasta cuts or short macaroni cuts, such as pennette (short quills), or medium shells. Serve the sauce over one pound of pasta, with freshly grated Pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Plus: Pasta Recipes and Tips

  • Servings: 4

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  • 3 cups canned peeled tomatoes in their liquid
  • 4 large garlic cloves, lightly crushed
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil or fresh flat-leaf parsley


  1. Drain the tomatoes in a strainer set over a medium bowl. Scoop out and discard any seeds from the tomatoes. Using your hands, a fork or a potato masher, crush the tomatoes well and place in a separate bowl; reserve their liquid for another use.
  2. In a medium nonreactive saucepan, cook the garlic in the olive oil over moderate heat until golden. Add the tomatoes and salt; season with pepper. Stir in the basil and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Discard the garlic. To make a smooth sauce, leave the garlic cloves in and pass the sauce through a food mill.

Make Ahead

Omit the basil, cover the sauce tightly and refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Before serving, stir in the basil and reheat gently.

Contributed By Published February 1996

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