This tomato sauce is very quick to make and the best part is that nobody will guess it takes 20-minutes to make!

Makes 6 servings

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

1 14½-ounce can diced tomatoes

Salt to taste

12 ounces pasta

3 6½-ounce cans chopped clams, drained (save liquid), highly optional

3 tablespoons minced fresh basil

¼ teaspoon granulated sugar

Ground black pepper to taste

Bring 4 quarts water to boil in a large pot.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, cook oil, garlic and pepper flakes, stirring often, until fragrant but not browned, 1 to 2 minutes.

Stir in crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes and simmer until slightly thickened, 15 to 20 minutes.

Add salt to taste and pasta to boiling water and cook, stirring often, until al dente.

When pasta is almost done, add optional drained clams to sauce and simmer until heated through.

Save ½ cup cooking water, then drain pasta and return to pot.

Remove sauce from heat, stir in basil and sugar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir sauce into pasta. If needed to loosen sauce, add some of reserved pasta cooking water OR, if you're using the highly optional clams, the liquid you saved when you drained them.

More spice: Add more garlic and red pepper flakes, along with a handful of chopped imported black olives (not the canned kind) and some capers.

Different herb: If you don't have fresh basil but why don't you? -- substitute ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley.

More meat: Add about 1 pound of raw OR leftover chicken to the sauce in time to cook it or, if it's already cooked, to heat it.

Mom's way: Add about 1 pound of peeled shrimp, either raw or cooked. If raw, simmer in sauce for 3-5 minutes, until cooked. If cooked, simmer until hot. -- Adapted from "The Best 30-Minute Recipe" by the editors of Cook's Illustrated

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