Adam Schoales
Editor. Geek. Tea Drinker.

Adam Schoales : : Blog

Thoughts, process, and other ramblings.


Simple Tomato Sauce

The other night I posted a video of simmering garlic, and tomatoes to my Instagram (yes, I'm one of those guys), which resulted in a request for the recipe for the meal I was cooking. I must admit, this is a first, but I am always happy to oblige. 

Credit for this recipe goes to The Matus Family, but I must be honest that I didn't have their actual recipe the other night when I was preparing it. I had a good sense of what the ingredients were so I mostly just winged it, but the end results were just fine. The recipe I present here is based on their original, with my adjustments noted. I will also be sure to update it once I'm a little more confident as to how to make it...


  • 1 package of spaghetti - I like Catelli Smart Pasta since it contains more fibre than regular white pasta, but isn't nasty like whole wheat pasta. You honestly can't taste a difference.
  • 1 796ml can of tomatoes - I suggest San Marzano tomatoes, but you could use whatever kind you prefer. Just make sure you're not using bargain bin canned tomatoes, since they're the star of the show here.
  • 3 cloves of fresh garlic - I love garlic so you can use a little less if you want. And remember, cloves are different from bulbs. 3 bulbs would be insane. 
  • 2 anchovy fillets - Before you say "I don't like anchovies" you won't even notice that they're there. Also, we're going to use to oil from the anchovy's can so don't throw that away.
  • Chili flakes (optional)
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Fresh Basil
  • Bottle of red wine - that's just for you, not the sauce.


  1. Get a big pot of salted water on the stove for your pasta. Remember to start with cold water not hot; don't ask me why, but hot water won't boil any faster.
  2. Start by chopping up your garlic and anchovies fillets. The garlic needn't be too fine, but you also don't want large chunks. As for the anchovies you want to get them small enough to just melt away.
  3. In a large frying pan, add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add in the oil from the anchovy tin. Turn the heat onto medium and get your oils heating.
  4. Once the oil has heated add your garlic and anchovies. Keep stirring to avoid burning. You can also toss in a small pinch of chili flakes at this point. Keep sautéing until the garlic has started to turn nice and golden.
  5. While your garlic and anchovies are sizzling empty your can of tomatoes into a large bowl. Once your garlic has turned golden and your anchovies have melted away add the tomatoes into the pan, reserving the tomato juice in the bowl. If your tomatoes had some basil in the tin toss that in too. It's delicious! 
  6. Using a wooden spoon break up the tomatoes in the pan. They will break down as the sauce cooks so if they're too tough at this point don't fret. Reduce heat to medium low.
  7. Pour yourself a glass of red wine. You're doing great, and you deserve it!
  8. After you let the tomatoes cook for a little bit it's time to add the reserved juice. How much really depends on how runny you like your sauce. Everything is going to thicken up, and you can always add some pasta water if you like it to be thinner. Me, I eventually added the whole amount over the course of cooking (remember, I was mostly making this up as I went along). 
  9. Keep stirring your sauce every so often continuing to break up the tomatoes as you go (unless you want it chunkier, who am I to tell you how to live?). Give it a quick taste. How is it? Does it need salt? Probably, so why not add a pinch of kosher salt and a grind of pepper.
  10. You can probably put your pasta on now. I always find it so hard to judge the timing on this... but al dante spaghetti will take about 9 minutes, and your sauce can probably stand to simmer for 9 minutes at this point, again depending on how runny or thick you want it. The longer it simmers the thicker it will get so use your best judgement. Keep tasting the sauce as you go, adjusting the seasoning. A little salt goes a long way, so don't be afraid of it.
  11. Feel free to pour yourself another glass of wine. Did I mention you're doing great? Everyone's going to be so impressed by your skills!
  12. Get some fresh basil, dice it up, and toss into the sauce. Basil is the best. Take a few more leaves, roll them into a cigar shape and start slicing down the cigar. Congratulations! You just did a chiffonade! You're basically an expert chef now. You'll use that to garnish your pasta.
  13. Keep on stirring, and tasting. Does it still need salt? Stop being so scared of salt. You're cooking fresh food, not food pre-loaded with salt to preserve it. A little salt won't kill you, and will make your sauce so much better.
  14. See? Isn't it better with some salt?
  15. Once your pasta is cooked, reserve some cooking water in case you want to loosen up your sauce, then drain.
  16. Check on your sauce. If it's too thick, you can add some of that reserved pasta water to loosen it up. Me, I like it thick so I didn't bother.
  17. Toss your pasta and your sauce into a big serving bowl. Using tongs, mix the pasta and sauce together to ensure everything is nicely coated.
  18. Serve. Garnish with the fresh basil your prepared. I also like to serve with some freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Ultimately this is a pretty brain-dead simple sauce that you can whip together with ingredients you can easily keep stocked in your house for emergencies. It also only takes about half an hour, which means that it's perfect for those nights when you get home and aren't sure what to prepare. 

It would go great with some fresh garlic bread, or a delicious home-made caesar salad. These guys claim their recipe is the best. It's not, mine is, but it's a family secret so you'll have to settle for second best.

Also, feel free to experiment and add your own flare. Recipes are guides (especially one as badly written and un-tested as this one) so do what feels right. Just remember to taste as you go. You can always adjust while you're still cooking, but once it's served it's hard to turn back.

Finally, when you're adding this to your recipe book, or app of your choice (I like Paprika) feel free to remove all my commentary. There's no reason this sauce needs 18 steps. It's much easier than I've made it out to be. This is why I'm a video editor and not a cook-book author.