Carolyn Federman, author of the kid-tested New Favorites for New Cooks (Ten Speed Press, $20), gave us this richly flavored sauce. It’s superb on everything from meatballs to pasta to pizza—and couldn’t be simpler. Just avoid making it in an aluminum pan; the metal will react with the acid in the tomatoes and make your sauce taste funny.
Trim and discard ends of garlic cloves. Peel garlic and cut into slices about as thick as a quarter.
Pour tomatoes with all their juices into a large bowl and, using your (well-washed) hands, crush into small chunks. Throw away any hard stem ends.
Pour ¼ cup oil into the frying pan and place over medium heat. Add garlic and a couple of pinches of salt, and stir. Let garlic warm up and become fragrant—about 1 minute—but don’t let it brown. When you start to smell the garlic, pour in tomatoes with all the juice.
Using a wooden spoon, stir in remaining ¼ cup olive oil, 1 1/2 tsp. salt, the pepper, and basil sprigs. Turn heat to medium-high, bring to a simmer, cover, and cook 15 minutes. Turn off stove. Fish out and discard basil.
Use sauce as is, or, for a smooth texture, let it cool 5 minutes, then transfer carefully to a blender and purée on low for 30 seconds, holding down lid with a towel to prevent splattering.
MAKE AHEAD Up to 3 days, chilled airtight.
Serving Size 1/4 Cup
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.