What makes a dish of spaghetti memorable? Or ravioli mouth watering.It's all in the sauce. A simple tomato based one can do the trick, except it's not so simple. Home cooks always say they have a knack for making sauce. It's not a knack, but what goes into it that makes good marinara or pomodoro stand out.
All sauces start out with a base.What is the best one? Fresh tomatoes or those canned ones? That actually depends on the time of year. The best season to use fresh vine ripened ones is the summer naturally. Some of the vine ripes now can be used. after all it's a fresher taste, perfect for a pasta primavera. Tomato paste still has to be used as a binder because the end result will be too watery. You can make it without it though but it won't be a thick sauce that will stick to the vermicelli or linguine. It is a great base for red clam sauce because you want something light that will complement the seafood.Many home chefs rely on canned. It can be combined with tomato paste to create a thicker texture. What are the best? Stop & Shop has an organic one from their all natural Nature's Promise. he flavor is an even one, not too bland not too intense.The one that home chefs recommend and rave about is Muir Glen Organic Whole Peeled Tomatoes. One of the reasons why it's so popular is the can. It's made without BPA in the can's lining. Others swear by Hunt, while purists demand San Marzano. This is my second choice for a sauce. Some say its' too acidic but I've never found them to be this.
The next step is what you put in it.Olive oil is a must and again it should be a good one. Always go with the extra virgin . There are other types such as light but this kind is tasteless. Garlic is another must. Go with about three cloves. They can be chopped or minced, depending on one's tastes. (however if you don't want guests or family complaining about large , hunky pieces then mince).Use an onion too for flavor. Now the controversy - sweetness or no sweetness. Many home chefs add just a teaspoon of sugar to temper the sauce. A few don't do this however it gives the tomatoes mellowness. A tablespoon of dark honey is the best sweetener.It adds a richness and another layer to it along with it being a all natural additive.Some home chefs use grated carrots too for this.That's up to you. Every pomodoro or marinara has a dose of oregano in it. Use fresh in the summer and dried in the colder months. I usually use a generous amount, namely two to three tablespoons. Always add salt and pepper. I found that even though I made the most perfect sauce (in my opinion) there will always be complaints if those seasonings aren't added.
There is no knack in creating the best sauce.It's what you put into it that counts. It's not alchemy, It's chemistry using the right ingredients to create a memorable pasta dish.