Quick Fresh Tomato Basil Sauce



Serves 4-6

This is my daughter Katherine's favorite thing I make.  I just threw it together one night when I was in a hurry and she was hungry.  She loved it, and now I make it for her all summer long as soon as the first tomatoes are ripe.  The tomatoes are the most important thing in this recipe.  Buy the sweetest, most delicious tomatoes you can find.  If I'm doing something fancy, I'll use all small tomatoes because they look pretty simply cut in half. When I cook for my family, I just use whatever tomatoes I have, which is quite often a mixture of both.

The secret ingredient is red pepper flakes.  Keep in mind that one key ingredient can also ruin something if you add too much; you just want a hint of heat.  If you decide you like more heat, you can always add more.  But start with a small amount.  

The other cooking secret is to not burn the garlic.  Burnt garlic can ruin an entire pot of sauce or soup or whatever you are cooking because you will taste the burnt garlic throughout the entire sauce.  If the garlic happens to burn, throw it away, wipe the oil out of the pan, and start again.

This only takes about five minutes total to cook.  This is one of those recipes that you truly do not need to measure. I was going to just list the ingredients and technique, but I went ahead and listed the measurements for those that find it helpful.  Serve it with your favorite pasta.

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves minced (about 2 teaspoons minced)

5 cups chopped tomatoes (about two pounds)

1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt, 

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (do not overdo it on the red pepper flakes.  Feel free to add more if you like it extra spicy, but do so in increments because the heat intensifies as the sauce cooks.)

8 basil leaves, chiffonade (i.e. slice in thin strips)


Parmesan Cheese, optional

Serve with your favorite pasta


Start boiling the water for the pasta before you start the sauce because the sauce cooks quickly and you'll want your pasta ready to go with it!  (be sure to salt the water.  I'm guessing everyone knows this but the pasta will taste terrible without salt.)

For the sauce:  Heat the largest sauté pan you have to medium high heat. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil, and sauté the garlic for about one minute. DO NOT LET THE GARLIC BURN. If the garlic burns, throw it out and start over. Burnt garlic will make the entire sauce bitter. You don't even really want it brown; you want it just cooked without browning or burning.

Add the chopped tomatoes. Add the kosher salt and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally for three minutes. That's it! It's done!

Add the fresh basil just before you serve it. Add fresh Paremsan cheese if you like cheese. Super easy, fresh and delicious!

Maili Halme