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Fresh Tomato Sauce with Roasted Peppers, Toasted Garlic, and Paprika

Why this recipe works: To capitalize on the full, robust flavor of great seasonal tomatoes, we found that any type of tomato tasted fine when skinned, seeded, chopped, and simmered in a skillet with garlic and olive oil—as long as it was ripe.

But for suitable additions to finish our fresh tomato sauce recipes, we needed to look beyond the usual suspects like parsley and ricotta and find forceful flavors—potent herbs and spices (piney rosemary), cured meats (smoky bacon), and assertive cheeses (pungent feta), using them judiciously to keep the sauce in balance.

A chunky, thick pasta, such as orecchiette or campanelle, is the best match for this sauce. Parmesan or Asiago cheese can be substituted for the Manchego. If your tomatoes are tart, you may need to add up to 1/2 teaspoon sugar.

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 medium cloves garlic , sliced thin
2 teaspoons paprika
3 pounds ripe round tomatoes , cored, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 3/4 cups)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup coarsely chopped roasted red peppers (about 4 ounces), rinsed and blotted dry
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Granulated sugar
2 ounces Manchego cheese , grated (about 1 cup)


1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil and garlic in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is lightly toasted, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in paprika and cook until darkened in color and fragrant, 15 to 30 seconds.

Stir in tomatoes and thyme; cook until tomato pieces lose their shape to form chunky sauce, about 10 minutes, stirring in peppers after 5 minutes. Stir in salt, pepper, and sugar to taste.

Toss sauce and remaining tablespoon oil with pasta and serve, sprinkling cheese over individual bowls.