Pasta dishes are a staple of family weeknight dinners, and store-bought tomato sauces are often over-seasoned and tinny tasting. Yet, it’s what my children want and is often what we turn to when time is tight and fresh tomatoes are out of season. One of the quickest and simplest tricks I’ve learned as a result is how to improve the flavour of canned tomato sauce.
When tomatoes aren’t in season, canned tomatoes are a life-saver. Picked when perfectly ripe and processed quickly, they preserve the flavours of summer all year long. Adding these tomatoes to a canned tomato sauce balances the seasonings of the sauce with the freshness of the canned tomatoes with little effort. For best results, use a canned tomato sauce that is relatively plain and good quality canned tomatoes. (Tip: San Marzano seem to have the best flavour, but any will do.)
To combat canned tomato sauce fatigue, here’s my tomato sauce trick. It’s fast, simple and requires no chopping at all. Here’s what to do:
- 680ml can store-bought tomato sauce
- 796ml can diced or whole canned tomatoes
- fresh basil
- orange or lemon rind, cut into a two-inch slice
- stick or immersion blender
- HEAT tomato sauce in a pot over medium heat. Add diced or whole canned tomatoes (with the liquid). Bring to a simmer.
- PURÉE using a stick or immersion blender. Add five or six basil leaves and slice of orange or lemon rind. Let simmer for 10 minutes.
- REMOVE rind, and basil leaves if desired. Taste for seasoning, add in a pinch of salt or pepper if desired. Serve over pasta and enjoy!