I have used sauce from a jar so many times I couldn’t even tell you. There are plenty of decent ones out there…and plenty of crappy ones as well. But once you make this you will see how ridiculously easy it is to make your own, and have the pride of ownership that comes with homemade sauce. Just imagine how pleased with yourself you will be if you make a double batch of this sauce and put half or more in the freezer for another couple of dinners (let it cool and put it in well-sealed pint or quart plastic containers).
Even if you make one batch, you will have enough left for another pound of pasta later in the week, or you can just freeze that half for another time). Also, you can use leftover sauce as a pizza sauce, in Chicken Parmesan or turn it into Meat Sauce.
And naturally if you make meatballs to top off this spaghetti, you will be the toast of the town.
Make Ahead Note
This will last, well-sealed, in the refrigerator for 5 days, and can be frozen for up to 9 months.
This is one of those dishes where how you finish it can transform it from a plain dish to one spiked with fresh herbs, hot pepper flakes, and a shower of fresh Parmesan.
Using Fresh or Dried Herbs
If you have fresh basil and oregano you’ll be able to make a lovely fresher tasting sauce. Skip the dried herbs at the beginning, and finely chop about 1 tablespoon of each of the herbs (measuring after chopping the and not worrying about precision; the herb thing is really to taste). Instead of adding them at the beginning of the long simmer, add them for the last 5 or so minutes of simmering. And, as noted, you can also sliver up some extra fresh basil and sprinkle it on top of the plates of whoever wants, along with or instead of the optional Parmesan.
Crushed Tomatoes in Juice vs. Puree
Crushed tomatoes in puree are thicker in consistency than crushed tomatoes in juice, and will simply yield a thicker sauce. If you can’t find them, you can certainly use crushed tomatoes in juice; if you cook the sauce longer it will reduce and thicken up a bit more.
More Pasta Recipes to Try:
- Chicken Parmesan Baked Ziti
- Beef and Three Cheese Noodle Casserole
- Pasta with Fresh Heirloom Tomato Sauce
- Classic Italian Meat Sauce
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Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion finely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
- 2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes preferably in puree
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- Kosher or coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- Pinch red pepper flakes optional
- 1 pound dried spaghetti linguine or angel hair pasta (or any pasta you like)
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese to serve, optional
- 2 tablespoons slivered fresh basil optional
- In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and sauté for 2 more minutes, until you can really smell the garlic, and it starts to turn golden. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and pepper, oregano, basil, and red pepper flakes if using (you can also add those to portions of the sauce at the end for those who like it hot). Bring to a simmer, lower the heat to medium-low, and simmer gently for about 20 minutes (it can simmer for much longer, if you want; it will just get even richer and more concentrated). Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat, add a couple tablespoons of salt, and allow the water to return to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the package directions.
- Drain the pasta, return it to the pot and pour about half the sauce over, more of less according to how saucy you like it, stirring to combine. Transfer to a serving bowl or serve into individual bowls, topping each portion with Parmesan, fresh basil, and red pepper flakes as desired (or pass the toppings in small bowls at the table).
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