I don’t like to make a big deal out of tomato sauce. Canned tomatoes are a pantry staple, so I think of them as a weeknight/whenever go-to ingredient.
It doesn’t even have to be sauce. Tomato soup is pretty much just thinned out sauce.
I know there are people who spend hours crafting their rendition of a treasured family recipe, but my version is finished simmering in about 15 minutes.
Keeping with that simple, no fuss meal prep, last week I made rigatoni with tomato sauce.
There is a range of effort that I find myself putting into this sauce depending on my mood.
The first step is to sauté onions in olive oil. Once they are soft and translucent, I add minced garlic.
To make the sauce even more fragrant and give it a good kick, I always stir in red pepper flakes. A little goes a long way!
After that, I dump in a big can of crushed tomatoes, bring everything to a boil and then turn down the heat to let the sauce simmer.
The cook time kind of depends on what I’m planning to do with the sauce. For pasta, I usually keep it a little thinner. Remember that you can always use pasta cooking water to thin it out, too.
For pizza, I like a thicker sauce, so I simmer it longer.
Depending whether you prefer smooth or chunky sauce, you can puree it in the blender.
As the sauce is cooking, I like to add a Parmesan rind. I hoard them in a little baggie in my fridge. They add a subtle richness, and pardon the cheffy word, umami.
If I know I’m not going to be able to use all the sauce in a few days, I freeze it in ice cube trays, so it’s easy to only use as much as I need for a single meal.
Rigatoni with Tomato Sauce
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 17-22 minutes
- Total Time: 22-27 minutes
- Yield: Serves 4 1x
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small white onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper plus more to taste
1-28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
Parmesan rind, optional
1 pound dried rigatoni
Grated Parmesan for serving
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until they soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and Parmesan rind, if using, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer for 10-15 minutes until the sauce has thickened.
Cook the rigatoni according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water. Stir the rigatoni into the sauce and add the pasta water by the 1/4-cupful to thin the sauce. Season to taste and top with grated Parmesan before serving.
If you prefer a smoother sauce, puree it in the blender.