Simple Tomato Sauce for Pasta
Dresses 3/4 pound pasta
Serves 2

10 fresh roma tomatoes
2 medium garlic cloves, peeled
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves (about 8 leaves)
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 pound pasta of your choice

1. If you want to be fancy, peel the tomatoes by blanching (we're too lazy to do this!). Dice tomatoes either by hand or in a food processor with metal blade (about four quick pulses). Tomatoes should be coarse, with 1/4-inch pieces visible.

2. Process garlic through garlic press into small bowl; stir in 1 teaspoon water. Heat 2 tablespoons oil and garlic in a large saute pan over medium heat until fragrant but not brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and simmer until thickened slightly, about 10 minutes. Stir in basil, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

3. Meanwhile, cook pasta until al dente in large pot of boiling, salted water. Reserve 1/4 cup cooking water; drain pasta, and transfer it back to cooking pot. Mix in reserved cooking water, sauce, and remaining oil and salt; cook together over medium heat for 1 minute, stirring constantly, and serve immediately.

Tomato Sauce with Vodka and Cream

Dresses 3/4 pound pasta
Serves 2

ingredients for Master Recipe above plus:
1/4 teaspoon dried pepper flakes
1/2 cup vodka
about 3/4 cup of heavy cream

Follow Master Recipe, adding dried pepper flakes along with garlic. Halfway through the 10-minute simmering time, add the cup vodka. Continue with master recipe, adding heavy cream and ground black pepper to taste along with remaining seasonings. Serve over some good pasta!

Optional: transfer sauce to food processor fitted with a steel blade; pulse to a coarse puree. (We prefer it un-pureed at our house!) Return sauce to pan; simmer over medium heat to thicken, 2 to 3 minutes.

Both of these recipes are adapted from Cook's Illustrated's article on quick pasta sauce. My major adaptation is to use fresh tomatoes, if at all possible. You can change it back to canned romas if necessary. I also cut down the cream in the second recipe - as we like to taste more tomato and have less fat, if possible.

These recipes are from Cook's Illustrated.