Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Enzo's Five-Minute Pasta Sauce

Don't get me wrong, I love cooking a pasta sauce for the better part of a day (or gravy, as we call it in my family) but sometimes you just want something fast and easy with a few simple ingredients and get on with your evening.

Here, let me set the scene for you, it's a beautiful thing: 

You get home from work. It's 6, or 7 o'clock in the evening. You're probably exhausted, let's face it, it's been a long day. Isn't it nice to know all you have to do is chop up a few garlic cloves, saute them up in a tbs. of olive oil, throw in a few crushed red pepper flakes and a 28 oz. can of whole tomatoes. Cook it for a few minutes, and call it a day? 

In five minutes, you can have a delicious sauce that tastes just as good as that sauce that spent most of the day on the stove. (Mom, don't judge me, you know I love your sauce)

So, here's the back story on this amazing recipe. I was in 5th grade, so this recipe is from 1997 (and trust me, if I remember something for over a decade it HAS to be good), at Rollins College Summer Camp in Winter Park, FL and I was taking a cooking class. A chef named Enzo, who had a very yummy restaurant aptly named Enzo's in town, came in to teach us one of his recipes. And it was on that blustery summer day in central Florida that I first learned (and tasted) this lovely gem of a recipe, and I've been making it ever since. And as soon as you try it you too will be making it for years to come, I promise!

Enzo's Five-Minute Pasta Sauce:


2 tbs. of extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
28 oz. can of whole peeled tomatoes
pinch of salt


First you want to crush the can of whole tomatoes. I use my hand, but you're more than welcome to use your favorite crushing tool (a potato masher is good, too). Just make sure to keep the sauce relatively chunky. The tomatoes will cook down slightly on the stove making for the perfect chunky/smooth pasta sauce.

Next you want to slice up your garlic cloves. Instead of smashing the garlic I like to peel it and thinly slice it for this particular recipe. But this is your chance to be creative, so do this to your liking (and the same goes for that crushed red pepper...making it as hot or as mild as you want).

You want to lightly brown the garlic in a saute pan over medium-low heat. Once the garlic begins to brown, add the crushed red pepper and saute briefly. Then add your tomatoes (and be careful, they have the tendency to splatter and make a mess when they hit the hot oil, so just be careful please!).

This only needs to cook for about 5 minutes. You'll be amazed how the sauce thickens over that time. Once the sauce has reduced, check it for seasonings. I added a little more crushed red pepper and a heavy pinch of salt but this is to your liking. So be creative and have fun with it!

This sauce is a wonderful base, so add to it if you want. You could add some roasted garlic, or maybe some capers and olives and make a delicious puttanesca sauce. It's really up to you!


  1. That is a perfect simple sauce recipe that we have made a hundred times, it works. I like herbs in my sauce, rosemary, oregano, parsley, but really, keeping it simple is the way to go! Now, if only ravioli was as easy to make.....

  2. Love quick recipes that you can make after a busy day. Your sauce sounds great...I love adding red pepper flakes to mine too. Adds such a nice kick!