As much as I love tomato based sauces and pasta (as evidenced by the large number of this kind of recipe on my blog!), I am kind of particular about tomato sauce. In my experience, usually they have to cook for a long time to be very good. Over the years I have tried many quick recipes and they nearly always end up kind of blah. Not bad by any means, but lacking character and any level of deep or complex flavor. What I usually do is make up a great big batch of bolognese sauce or meatless marinara and freeze it since they take quite a while to make and it's easy to make big batches.
This recipe, however, is a sauce that only takes about half an hour to make (chopping time included) and is really, really good! How can it not be when it's full of olives and capers, then simmered until thick? I got this recipe from Giada de Laurentiis' book Everyday Italian and have made it several times over the past couple of years. The recipe is called "Spicy Tomato Sauce" in her book and is apparently her version of arrabbiata sauce, but it honestly does not seem spicy to us at all with just a big pinch of red pepper flakes for heat. It's really good though without being hot and you can add as much pepper flakes as you want. Even olive haters may be alright with this one. My husband only likes plain black olives you buy in a can, but he enjoys the salty, briny flavor of kalamata olives and capers in this recipe. This sauce is astonishingly good, as good as any sauce I've had that was simmered all day. As another bonus, you can keep the ingredients on hand and whip it up really quickly!
Quick note: This is a great choice for a vegan meal if you use eggless pasta and don't add any parmesan.
Olive and Caper Tomato Sauce
3 T olive oil
1 small onion, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 C pitted kalamata olives, chopped coarsely
2 T drained capers
large pinch of red pepper flakes (or more if you like it spicy!)
salt to taste (recipe calls for 1/2 t but canned tomatoes, olives, and capers are already salty)
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
Heat olive oil over medium high and saute onion until it begins to brown, then add everything but the crushed tomatoes. Saute for a minute or two, then stir in the tomatoes. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 20 minutes. Serve over your favorite pasta, we like linguine. A sprinkle of parmesan on top does not hurt!
Yield: 4 to 6 servings