1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Spanish onion, 1/4-inch dice
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried
1/2 medium carrot, finely grated
2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand and juices reserved
Spaghetti, cooked al dente
Whole basil leaves, for garnish
Grated Parmesan, (optional)
Pasta with basic tomato sauce is a weekly — ok, sometimes nightly — occurrence in our house. To keep things interesting, I'll finish the sauce off with...well, whatever happens to be in the fridge! Here are a few of my favorite finishing touches for a simple bowl of pasta.
I use these add-ins to finish quick stove-top tomato sauces all the time, but they can work well with just about any sauce you're making, or even become the sauce itself. Cheese and dairy give sauces creaminess while butter and oil give them richness. You also don't need to use a lot — these are just for finishing and rounding out the flavors in a sauce.
- Whole Milk or Heavy Cream: Add a splash and let the sauce simmer for a few minutes to thicken.
- Hard Cheeses: A half cup of grated parmesan, pecorino, or other hard cheese adds a deep savory note to the sauce.
- Fresh Cheese: Try adding a scoop of ricotta, mascarpone, crème fraîche or even simple cream cheese! I especially love these when I don't feel like making a tomato sauce — just sauté some greens, toss with pasta, and fold in the cheese until creamy.
- Fresh Basil: A handful of basil ribbons sprinkled over each bowls adds a punch of aroma and tastes like being in Italy.
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: Drizzle just a little of your best olive oil over the pasta before serving and you'll be amazed at how much flavor it adds. Try flavored oils, too!
- Butter: This is an old culinary school trick — when in doubt, add a pat of butter. This makes even the most basic sauce taste decadent.
- Red or White Wine: A little for the pot, a little for the cook. Wine adds acidity and an instant flavor-boost to a pot of simple sauce.
- Pasta Water: Scoop out some of the cooking water just before draining out the pasta. A few tablespoons of this starchy liquid is a low-calorie way of adding creaminess to any sauce.
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
1 cup water
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon 1 teaspoon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon 8 ounces pasta, such as linguine or spaghetti
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined