• Jeremy Scheck

Darn Good Red Sauce...and How to Mix it with Pasta

Updated: Jun 14, 2019

I'm tired of people not mixing their pasta with their sauce. If I have to see another decrepit photo of plain pasta stuck together and the sauce on top, I might have a nervous breakdown. This recipe will show you how to make really good red sauce from scratch, cook pasta, and how to properly mix it all together. Instead of cooking the sauce all day, you'll have this on the table within 30-45 minutes. This recipe uses a can of whole, peeled San Marzano tomatoes, which are available year-round and will beat the fresh stuff 9 times out of 10.

For 4 generous portions, could also halve the recipe for 2.

This sauce recipe makes 4-6 portions. If you're cooking for just one or two, I recommend making the full amount of sauce, then saving what you don't need for later. Then over the next week, cook the individual portions of pasta fresh when you want it, and toss in a small pan to serve.

Vegan option: use all olive oil instead of butter, omit cheese

Gluten-free option: use gluten-free pasta.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 1 yellow onion, sliced

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Red pepper flakes, to taste

  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano

  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

  • ½ cup white wine or chicken stock

  • 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes (look for san marzano)

  • 1 lb box of long pasta, such as bucatini or spaghetti

  • Freshly-grated parmigiano reggiano or pecorino romano cheese and fresh basil for serving


  1. Heat a large skilled over medium-high heat, add the onion. Season generously with salt and pepper and sprinkle the tablespoon of sugar over the onions. Cook the onion 5-10 minutes between medium and high heat until it softens and develops some color, and then reduce the heat to medium-low.

  2. Add the oregano and red pepper flakes. Stir well with the onions, before adding the garlic and stirring more. Add the tomato paste and cook until it darkens in color, about 3 minutes. Pour in the wine or stock and stir to get any brown bits up from the bottom of the pan.

  3. On a different burner, set a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. I usually fill my pot with very hot tap water so it takes less time to boil.

  4. Pour the tomatoes into the sauce, along with all the juice, and boil over medium. Use a fork to crush the tomatoes to your desired consistency. Continue to cook over medium-low, stirring occasionally until the pasta is done.

  5. When the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook 2 minutes less than the lower end of the package instructions to ensure that it will remain al dente after cooking it in the sauce.

  6. Use tongs to add the cooked pasta directly to the simmering sauce, stir well. Let the pasta simmer a minute or two in the sauce, mixing well, before cutting the heat and stirring in copious amounts of freshly-grated cheese and basil.

Jeremy Scheck is the founder and editor-in-chief of Collegetown Kitchen and After School Bakery. He is a student at Cornell University in the class of 2022 studying Spanish, Italian, and nutrition. Aproveche, buon appetito and bon appétit!