How to Make Fresh Tomato Sauce

Get the most of fresh tomatoes with a no-cook sauce that comes together in minutes and can rest at room temperature until dinnertime.


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Fresh Tomato Sauce
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Fresh Tomato Sauce

    Ripe tomatoes, garlic, basil, and a few seasonings are all you need to create a light and flavorful sauce that's ideal for tossing with pasta. Follow the next few slides for tips on choosing the right kind of tomatoes and making this simple sauce.

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Think Beyond Red Tomatoes

    Pick an assortment of ripe heirloom tomatoes. Don't be surprised to see them in a variety of colors such as orange, yellow, green, and even purple, with names such as Black Plum, Pink Accordion, and Brandywine. Their unique colors and flavors are what make a simple platter of sliced tomatoes so pretty and delicious.

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Tomato Sizes

    Heirloom tomato varieties come in many sizes, from tiny cherry tomatoes to softball-size tomatoes, as well as unique shapes. Don't be concerned if you see an unusually shaped tomato; that's part of the charm of old variety tomato plants.

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Variety Blends

    Mixed containers at farmer's markets are a great way to get a good assortment of tomatoes in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. Some booths will even let you mix-and-match your own blend of tomatoes.

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Start the Sauce

    Once you have chosen your perfect tomatoes, it's time to get cooking. Begin by washing and rough chopping your tomatoes. Then, add them to a large bowl. Since the sauce is so flavorful, we like to use five large tomatoes, but if you like a lower sauce to pasta ratio, simply adjust according to your liking.

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Add the Garlic

    Next, mince two to three garlic cloves and add to the bowl. For less pungent garlic flavor, smash them but leave them mostly whole and then remove them before serving.

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Add Freshness with Basil

    Roughly chop 1/2 cup of basil leaves and add it to the sauce.

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Finish Seasoning the Sauce

    Add salt and pepper to taste and approximately two tablespoons of olive oil. Stir together gently. Let the sauce sit. Don't worry if it looks like there's a lot of liquid -- the tomato juices will be absorbed by the pasta. The sauce can sit at room temperature for a few hours (although it is best when eaten soon after you make it).

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Cook the Pasta

    Prepare one pound of pasta according to the manufacturer's directions. Short pasta, such as rotini or ziti, works well.

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Toss Together

    Once your pasta is done to al dente, drain it thoroughly and add it to the bowl with your sauce and stir together.

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Finish with Cheese

    Top each portion of pasta with shaved Parmesan cheese, if desired, before serving.

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