Basic Garlic Herb Pasta Sauce, Accessorized
Here's my basic garlic-herb
Recipe type: Sauce
Cuisine: Italian
  • 1 medium-large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 6 medium cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • A couple glugs of olive oil, about 3 tablespoons
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons mixed italian herbs, or ½ tsp each of basil, oregano, thyme, and marjoram
  • 1 piece (2-3 inches) natural parmesan rind, preferably parmigiano reggiano* (see note below), plus grated parmesan for topping
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • ¼ tsp to ¾ tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes*
  • 1 28-oz can crushed or ground tomatoes*
  • Kosher salt to taste (suggested amounts can be found in the process)
  • 1 small bunch fresh basil or oregano, torn (Optional)
  • Pasta for serving
  1. Saute
  2. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat (make sure it's hot before beginning). When the oil is shimmering, add the onions. If your oil is hot enough, you should hear a satisfying "kshhhh". Saute, stirring frequently until onion is softened, but not browned (about 6 minutes). Add garlic and cook for another minute, until beginning to soften but not brown.
  3. Herbs, tomatoes, and salt
  4. Add crushed red pepper, and dried herbs. Stir to combine. Add tomato paste and stir to coat. Add both cans of tomatoes. Stir and break up the whole tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Season with salt to taste.
  5. Add the parmesan rind to sauce and stir (the rind will simmer along with the sauce to add that savory undertone we talked about earlier). Turn heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the parmesan rind and discard. Follow the package directions for your pasta of choice. I am a fan of whole wheat angel hair. Make sure to boil in salted water (more than you would think), and don't rinse. Try to time cooking your pasta so that the pasta and sauce are done at the same time.
  6. Stir in balsamic vinegar and red wine vinegar. Taste and add more salt if needed.
  7. Stir in the fresh herbs if using. Toss with pasta, and top with grated parmesan and more fresh herbs.
•A good block of parmesan cheese is a bit of an investment, but will last you a while. It is a staple in my house, and lasts me about 2 months. Costco sells big blocks of good quality parmigiano reggiano for much less than anywhere else.


Fennel: Add 1 small chopped fennel bulb and saute with the onion
Italian Sausage: Brown first. Remove from pan and saute onions and garlic. Add meat back in before adding herbs and tomatoes.
Veggie Crumbles, such as Quorn: Add after sautéing onions and garlic.
Red Wine: Splash in ½ cup red wine after sauteing onions and garlic. Allow to cook down for a minute or so before adding other ingredients.
Shrimp Arrabiata: Increase crushed red pepper amount. Splash in ½ cup dry white wine such as sauvignon blanc and ½ c clam juice to pan after sauteing onion and garlic. Allow to cook down for about a minute or so. Continue with remaining ingredients. Stir in 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano at the end. Serve with grilled shrimp.
Recipe by Spoon With Me at