10/22/2014 12:09 pm ET Updated Dec 22, 2014

Cooking Off the Cuff: Fresh-Tomato Sauce Freshened With Fresh Tomatoes

Ian Collins, Osaka.

When Jackie and I dug into our bowls of pasta with tomato sauce a week ago, there was no plan to write about our dinner. What more does anybody need to know about noodles with tomato sauce?

But there was a little twist to it, and the result was so good that it seemed worth describing.

A few days beforehand, I'd made a quart/liter or so of my usual tomato sauce, which is the plainest you can imagine: ripe tomatoes, peeled (or at other times of year canned), chopped and cooked for 20 to 40 minutes (depending on their water content) with good olive oil, one or two peeled but whole cloves of garlic, and a few leaves of sage or some other herb. And salt, but no pepper. No sweating the garlic: everything goes into the pan at the same time. When it tastes just right, remove the garlic and herbs, and ... and nothing: it's done.

For this remarkable pasta dinner, I diced another ripe tomato (not peeled, though it could have been). I then heated a tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan until it was pretty hot, then added the diced tomato and some salt. I sautéed it (if anything as wet as a tomato can really be sautéed) for maybe 15 seconds over high heat, then added a cup or so of the longer-cooked sauce I'd made earlier and warmed it through.

I boiled some dried pasta (trenette, which are like linguine but broader - any long pasta would be fine), buttered it and sauced it, then served it with grated parmesan on the side. We also topped our portions with butter-fried croutons, and they were terrific but by no means imperative.

Try it: You get all the intense savoriness of cooked tomato sauce and all the freshness of a ripe farmers' market tomato. But don't bother unless you have a great tomato to add to the sauce, which means you need to get cracking before the late-summer crop is exhausted.

Fresh-Tomato Sauce Freshened With Fresh Tomatoes