Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and saute the garlic for about a minute until lightly browned (being careful not to let it get too dark).
Add the tomatoes & basil, season with salt and pepper and cook, uncovered, over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes.
Taste for seasoning before serving and add more salt as needed.
In such a simple recipe, high-quality tomatoes are key to a delicious sauce. I recommend San Marzano tomatoes as they are sweet and low in acidity.
Use fresh garlic for the best possible flavor.
Garlic burns easily and will become bitter when overcooked. Be sure to cook until it just starts to brown before adding the tomatoes.
Baking soda neutralizes acidity. To save bitter tomato sauce, add a pinch of baking soda at a time (tasting in between) until the acidity disappears. Alternatively, add sugar a half teaspoon at a time until it has the desired sweetness.
Salt like you mean it. Seasoning is the key to a simple tomato sauce. Taste between small additions, allow to dissolve and add more until it's perfectly seasoned.
Using Fresh Tomatoes
To use fresh tomatoes you will need 4 lbs of tomatoes, they will have to be prepped by skinning them, straining the seeds from the pulp, and dicing them into pieces that will cook evenly. To adapt this recipe, add a little water, vegetable stock, or tomato juice (about a half cup) to the pan when adding the fresh tomatoes to help them cook down with the other ingredients. Check often and add liquid if it starts to dry out. The sauce may need to be pureed with a little water to loosen after cooking.