quick chunky pasta sauce

below is the third fourth installment from jason, my taste tester, who has decided cooking isn't really too hard. he has occasional food projects, just like me, that he wants to share too. (check out his stovetop mac & cheese and egg sandwich experiment too.) this time it's today's lunch - a quick pasta sauce full of fresh vegetables.
Summer is great for food because you can always find fresh ingredients at the local farmers' market or your own garden. Sometimes you bought (or harvested) a lot of great vegtables and don't know what to do with them. With no meal planned on a lazy Saturday afternoon, we were getting very hungry and needed something fast. I made a fresh pasta sauce from the tons of fresh vegtables in the house.

I've watched Kate make sauce before many times. I was in a hurry and didn't want to spend forever searching the Internet for a recipe. So I just totally winged it. And you know what? It turned out better than I thought it would!

I was afraid that I would guess wrong at the times and order of cooking the vegetables, but I think it came out quite good -- Kate seemed to think it was pretty much perfect. What I write here is exactly how I did it; I didn't use a timer, just my intuition, but below I note what cues I use. Another note is that the sauce is chunky because I didn't try to blend it. If you like a smooth sauce, this would probably blend well. I've also heard that sugar is a popular sauce addition to counteract the acidity of the tomatoes, but I've never felt the need to do that; feel free to experiment. Kate also suggested adding butter at the end of the recipe to the sauce to make it thicker and richer.

Don't be afraid of a fresh sauce! Anyone can make this recipe and "skip the jar" of sauce with who-knows-what fillers in it.

quick chunky pasta sauce
30 minutes, serves 2

small warning: while the flavors of this sauce are amazing, it is just wet enough to coat your noodles. don't expect them to be drowning like they are with jarred tomato sauce.

2 large, fresh and ripe garden tomatoes, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, finely diced
1 onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 handfuls of fresh market mushrooms, diced
0.5 lbs pasta
tablespoon of butter or margarine

  1. Get your ingredients ready beforehand: dice the tomatoes, carrots and onion. The tomatoes and mushrooms can be diced large (about 0.5 inch or 1.5cm cubes), because they will break down. The onions and carrots should be diced much smaller than that, about half the size, so that they get soft. Mince the garlic.
  2. Start heating a pot of salted water to boil. I saw on Anne Burrell's show on Food Network that properly salted water for cooking pasta should taste "like the ocean."
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a sauce pan on medium heat, enough to get a good coating and flavor your sauce. If the oil starts to smoke, it's too hot!
  4. Add the minced garlic in the pan. If your pan is hot enough it will sizzle right away. Cook until you can smell the garlic, it may be only 30-60 seconds. Don't let it brown; overcooked garlic tastes very bitter.
  5. Add the carrots and onion and cook until they are getting soft. The onion will start to turn translucent. If you see the onions start to get brown and carmelize, it's too long.
  6. Add the tomatoes and mushrooms. Keep a vigorous simmer going at medium to medium-low heat. The tomatoes and mushrooms will start to breakdown and give off their water, which will reduce as you cook. Cook for about 10 minutes. When the liquid has mostly disappeared, turn off the heat. Don't let the sauce go dry, which will start to burn it.
  7. Cook the pasta while the sauce is simmering and reducing.
  8. When the sauce has reduced, add heavy pinch of salt and taste. Don't skip tasting! Add more or less salt to taste, keeping in mind you can add salt but not remove it.
  9. When the pasta is done, I love to add about a tablespoon of butter or margarine to keep it from sticking but also giving it great flavor.
  10. Serve the sauce over the pasta and enjoy!


  1. That looks so amazingly delish! I love how easy it is too!!!

  2. After reading this post I picked all of my tomotoes and made the best ever fresh sauce. I cooked mine down-low and slow- for about 2 hrs,let it cool then put it in the fridge overnight. The next day it was back to the stove for about another hour then I added a huge handful of fresh basil, one tsp of salt and sugar and lots of fresh pepper. I served it over pappardelle pasta along with tomato salad. The tomato salad is simply diced fresh tomatoes, LOTS of fresh sliced garlic, fresh basil and oregano, olive oil and salt and pepper. Dip your crusty italian bread into this and I'll bet you eat the entire loaf!!! Be sure to have lots of napkins.
    Enjoy fresh tomatoes-the best of summer.


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