It’s ROUND TWO: Battle of the Fresh Tomato Pasta Sauce. Tonight’s contender is a crowd favorite, champion of the “Cooked” Tomato. With lots of fans and lots of press this contender comes to the table highly anticipated.

This veteran competitor knows that garden fresh tomatoes must have a garden friendly recipe. The winner of this “Cooked vs. Uncooked” battle will not emerge victorious standing on a canned tomato recipe re-do! Just as a fresh uncooked sauce shines in simplicity, so goes the success of a fresh cooked sauce as well.

Tonight’s contender follows an exacting strategy. Take ripe garden tomatoes. Add big cloves of fresh garlic. Bring fresh basil into play. Understand the importance of olive oil. Attend to a few finishing details! In other words, get ready to rumble!!!

Gather Up:
3 pounds tomatoes, mixed varieties from the garden
3 – 4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
½ pound pasta, your choice
2 teaspoons sugar
Short stack basil leaves, washed and dry, roughly chopped
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Coarsely chop tomatoes and slice garlic.

In a large heavy sauté pan add the tomatoes and the garlic. Drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Cook slowly over medium low heat until the tomatoes are just beginning to fall apart and their juices have been extracted into the olive oil forming a nice sauce, about 45 minutes.

Then gently squash the tomatoes into the sauce in the pan. Stir in the sugar, then the basil. Taste, and add salt, pepper and an extra splash of olive oil if needed.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water with a splash of olive oil, until al dente. Add to the tomato sauce in the pan and use tongs to work the sauce through the pasta. Add the Parmesan and work through the pasta with tongs. Transfer to a warmed serving dish and sprinkle with additional cheese and basil if desired.

Recipe adapted from Tyler Florence.