Spaghetti with Easy Tomato Sauce

Simple as you like – and trust me you will like. This easy tomato sauce is perfect on spaghetti (though it goes well with other pasta shapes too) and works in many different scenarios. Get the seasoning right to balance any acidity…


Make the sauce: Put a heavy-bottomed pan over a gentle heat. Add two-thirds of the oil then the garlic and chilli flakes. Let it warm through to soften the garlic for 2 minutes or so (colouring will turn it bitter).

Add the chopped tomatoes directly. If using whole plum tomatoes, squish them in with your fingers or break them up with a wooden spoon.

Add the sugar and season with salt and pepper. Stir well. Bring to the boil then lower to a simmer and cook for 10–20 minutes.


In the meantime, cook the pasta: Put a large, covered pan of water with a pinch of salt and a glug of oil on to boil.

Add the pasta and cook until al dente (check your packet for timings).

Finish the sauce: Season to taste, add a little more sugar if it’s sharp or a drop of lemon juice or balsamic to brighten it. Add the remainder of the olive oil.

Drain the pasta into a colander. Tip it straight back into the pan and add the butter and a little black pepper. Stir in the sauce.


Stick a large fork into the pasta. Twirl to hook a reasonable amount. Lift and place onto plates or into warm bowls. Or grab it out with a pair of tongs.

Scatter over some parmesan, top with a few basil leaves, if you like, and serve with bread or garlic bread and a rocket salad with balsamic dressing.

Bonus Bites


Blitz a can of chopped tomatoes. Fry a handful of diced bacon/pancetta with 1 diced small onion, a diced chilli and a diced garlic clove. Add the tomatoes and cook as before.


Chop a handful of good vine or cherry tomatoes. Spoon out the seeds and roughly chop. Marinate in a mix of 2 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp wine vinegar with a few torn basil leaves or a bit of chopped parsley to taste. Alternatively, toss with a few chopped olives, ½ tsp drained capers and a drizzle of olive oil. Leave for 30 minutes. Toss into hot spaghetti.


From Sam Stern’s Cookery Course for Students in the Kitchen (Quadrille)

Photograph by Chris Terry

Useful Cooking Information


Metric Imperial
10 g½ oz
20 g¾ oz
25 g1 oz
50 g2 oz
75 g3 oz
110 g4 oz
150 g5 oz
175 g6 oz
200 g7 oz
225 g8 oz
250 g9 oz
275 g10 oz
350 g12 oz
450 g1 lb
500 g (½ kg)18 oz
700 g1½ lb
900 g2 lb
1 kg2¼ lb
1.3 kg3 lb
1.8 kg4 lb
2.2 kg5 lb


Metric Imperial
50 ml2 fl oz
75 ml3 fl oz
100 ml3½ fl oz
125 ml4 fl oz
150 ml5 fl oz¼ pint
200 ml7 fl oz
250 ml9 fl oz
300 ml10 fl oz½ pint
425 ml15 fl oz¾ pint
600 ml20 fl oz1 pint
800 ml1½ pint
1 l1¾ pints
1.2 l2 pints
1.5 l2½ pints
1.8 l3 pints
2 l3½ pints


Metric Imperial
5 mm¼ inch
1 cm½ inch
2 cm¾ inch
2.5 cm1 inch
3 cm1¼ inches
4 cm1½ inches
5 cm2 inches
10 cm3 inches
15 cm4 inches
20.5 cm6 inches
23 cm9 inches
25 cm10 inches
30 cm12 inches

Spoon measures - mean level measures unless the recipe says 'heaped'

Eggs - are always large for baking, unless recipe says otherwise

Oven Temperatures

Gas °F °C
Mark 1275140

Fan assisted ovens - remember to reduce temperatures by 20°C

Most Useful US/European Conversions

ButterUS 1 cup / 2 sticks8 oz220 g
SugarUS 1 cup6 oz175 g
FlourUS 1 cup4 oz110 g
LiquidUS 1 cup8 fl oz225 ml
Prepped OnionsUS 1 cup4 oz110 g
Cheese, GratedUS 1 cup4 oz110 g
Diced FruitUS 1 cup5 oz150 g
Fresh BreadcrumbsUS 1 cup2 oz55 g

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