Favorite sauces for pasta range from the simplicity of garlic-infused olive oil or melted butter -- for which no recipe is even needed -- to herbal pestos and rich, complex concoctions of cream, cheese, and eggs. Tomatoes and pasta are a classic pairing with endless uses. In this area, youíll find a selection of basic sauces that can be served over your favorite hot cooked pasta or used as directed in other recipes at this site.
As with all dishes, a pasta sauce is only as good as what you put into it. For red sauces, fully ripened fresh plum tomatoes are best. They are meaty and juicy, not watery, and cook down into a thicker mixture. If they arenít available, canned plum tomatoes (sometimes labeled "Italian-style tomatoes") are preferable to fresh ones that are unripe or flavorless. Fresh herbs, whether basil, parsley, or oregano, should look lively, not wilted, while dried herbs should be less than 6 months old and have a characteristic aroma. Finally, there is no comparison between Parmesan, or other hard cheese, hand-grated from a fresh wedge and packaged grated cheese. Resist the temptation to use pre-grated cheeses and youíll find your sauces taste better than ever.
Cut an X in the blossom end of the tomato with the point of a knife, then plunge the tomato into boiling water for 20 to 30 seconds to loosen the skin. Transfer to a colander to drain. When cool enough to handle, peel off the skin by pulling it away with a small, sharp knife.
Cut the peeled tomato in half crosswise with a sharp knife. Hold the cut half upside down over the sink and squeeze gently to force out most of the seeds.
Cutting Up Canned Tomatoes
Insert a pair of sharp kitchen scissors with long blades into the can of whole tomatoes (no need to drain off the juice). Open and close the blades to cut the tomatoes into small pieces. Or, pour tomatoes into a bowl and then cut up.
Grating Fresh Parmesan
Rub a chunk of fresh Parmesan cheese across the holes of a hand grater. If you grate fresh cheese often, you may want to purchase a hand-turned crank-style grater that you can bring to the table.