CLASSIC pasta a garlic (really) tomato sauce plus
a less garlicky variation (with jalapeno)








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For true garlic lovers, or anyone really wanting to spice up their pasta for the evening, here is a very simple, surprising tomato sauce that has a lot of garlic and oregano but melds together just perfectly. One really has to try it, to find out how smooth and spectacularly tasteful this sauce is. And it is one of those fairly loose sauce recipes where the ingredients and quantities can vary easily by wont or availability.


  • four to five pounds plum tomatoes, or other Italian varieties, chopped in quarters
  • 20 cloves of garlic (yes, 20), peeled and roughly chopped
  • eight tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • about a quarter cup chopped fresh oregano
  • several sprigs of thyme
  • several sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • about one quarter cup chopped fresh parsley
  • one-quarter teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • one teaspoon sugar

In a heavy pot, over medium heat, add the olive oil and then the garlic and the red pepper flakes. Cook the garlic until it starts to get sizzle. About two minutes. Add the tomatoes. Add some freshly ground pepper and one  teaspoon salt and the oregano, parsley, rosemary and thyme (and hum a few bars).

Simmer (low heat) for an hour. Stir now and then. Let cool and run through the food mill on a medium level. Put back in pan and test for salt. Add some grindings of the pepper mill and the sugar. Bring to a quick boil and stop. Ready to serve or freeze for a later date (which really works).

variation (with jalapeno):

In his delightful book: "Eating, a Memoir", Jason Epstein offers a wonderful tomato sauce that is a simple and flavorful variation of the above. The key is that he uses less garlic (it would be hard to use more) and jalapeno pepper.

The recipe, as he describes it: coat the bottom of a heavy pot with olive oil. Add three cloves of chopped garlic and a medium sized jalepeno pepper, minced and seeded. Reduce the heat to very low. As soon as the jalepeno barely starts to brown (do not let it blacken) dump in a 28-ounce can of peeled, whole San Marzano tomatoes, coarsely chopped, along with their juice. Add some fresh oregano. Cook over medium heat. The water from the tomatoes will evaporate in about ten to fifteen minutes and the sauce will cook down to just the right density. Add some sea salt (he says) a few grains at a time "until the sauce comes smartly to life". Terrific! One can add a little carrot and onion softened with the garlic, and a touch of sugar. But he doesn't recommend it.

To finish: toss the pasta (penne recommeded) into the sauce. Serve very hot in large pasta bowls. Top each bowl generously with hand-shredded basil and a small handful of the very freshest mozarella, carefully putting the mozarella on the basil leaves and not on the pasta so it doesn't get stringy.



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