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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Simple Homemade Tomato Sauce

Today I made a quick homemade tomato sauce. Thought I’d share my “recipe” with you. This isn’t necessarily cheaper or faster than jarred tomato sauce from the store, but it is very yummy and fresh tasting. I especially love using this sauce with homemade pizza. Tonight I’m going to add a bit of cream to the sauce and serve it over tortellini.

homemade tomato sauce web

The beauty of this sauce recipe is that you can change it up however you like. If you have canned tomatoes, use them. If you have a bunch of fresh tomatoes, use those instead! If you like onion, use more of it. If you like Italian spice seasoning, throw some of that in, too! There are no rules…just play around with the recipe and make it your own!

Here is what I did today. Other days it might be a little different, but I always follow this basic plan.

Simple Homemade Tomato Sauce
Simple and delicious!
Recipe type: Sauce
Cuisine: Italian
  • 1-2 tablespoon olive oil (or canola oil if you’re out of olive)
  • 1 shallot OR ~1/2 onion, chopped
  • 3-5 cloves garlic, minced or use your garlic press
  • 2 14.5 ounce cans petite diced tomatoes (I like the petite diced a lot, but you could use regular diced. also, if you have lots and lots of fresh tomatoes, dice those up and use them instead! I would guess you need 4-6 cups)
  • 2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 – 2 tablespoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 7-10 large leaves of fresh basil, chopped (probably 1-2 Tbsp or so”¦if you like basil, add more!)
  • If you don’t have fresh basil, feel free to use dried spices – but I would add them in before the simmering step instead of after. Oregano, Parsley and Basil are all great dried spices to add.
  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add shallots/onions. Cook until soft, a few minutes. Add garlic and saute for about a minute. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, salt and pepper. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to the point where the sauce still simmers. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. (While it’s simmering, you can smash the sauce up a bit with a ricer or pastry blender, to break up some of the tomatoes”¦although I do like my sauce chunky, so I just do this a little bit. Again, just figure out how you like it best and go with it!) Add fresh basil and mangia!

garlic press web

A note on garlic: I love my garlic press. I’ve heard from a few chef-types that they don’t like garlic presses because it damages the oils or something. I don’t notice a difference and the press is just so quick, so I pretend I’ve never heard anything negative about the technique. 😉 Also, I don’t put the garlic in with the onions at the beginning of cooking because it can overcook the garlic…I’ve ended up with deep fried garlic before, not exactly the flavor I’m going for in sauce.


  1. 1

    I LOVE fresh sauce. I can tomatoes in the fall so my sauce tastes SUPER fresh all year round. If you don’t have fresh basil on hand (I often don’t because this is a good “pantry” meal I can make without a lot of prior planning) use Penzy’s Spices dried basil. Order it, use it, love it. My kids and husband can tell the difference between their dried spices and ordinary grocery store brands. I like The Spice House spices and Penzy’s. The Spice House is out of Chicago and Penzy’s is from Wisconsin. The picture of your sauce is making my mouth water!!!

  2. 2
    Jane Maynard

    Glad you made the shout out to penzey’s – their spices are fantastic! I am definitely going to do a post one of these days… 🙂 I’m lucky enough to have an actual store in my town!

  3. Mmmmm, your sauce looks delish. Thanks for sharing such a quick and easy recipe — luv your mix-n-match suggestions!

  4. 4
    Niki CB

    This sounds great. I love Penzey’s too – their store in Menlo Park is so fun to browse and buy from.

    Yikes! I had never heard the cons of the garlic press. i have this awesome garlic press i adore and use all the time… 🙁 I think I’m also going to have to ignore the naysayers on this one…..

  5. 5
    Jane Maynard

    Nate hasn’t read my blog in about a week…the other night he said, “By the way, that sauce the other night was really good. Did you make it?” So an unbiased review with 4 stars! 🙂

  6. 6

    i was in the habit of delaying adding fresh garlic while cooking– so that it won’t brown too much and get bitter. then i saw this chef sauteing the onions and garlic together from the get-go. he said that the onions protect the garlic from burning when they’re in there together. i’ve gone back to adding garlic early (when onions are present) and haven’t had a problem as long as my temperature isn’t too high. i’m sure there are a jillion chefs with a jillion opinions out there though.
    as for garlic presses, does mine just suck? my beef with it is that half my clove of garlic remains in the smashing compartment, and then i just end up adding that big chunk of garlic that isn’t very minced up.

  7. 7
    Jane Maynard

    lindsay – that is a great tip from that chef – thanks for sharing that, I”ll give it a try next time.

    as for the garlic press…I suppose some of my garlic stays in the press, but I resmoosh it a few times and it’s good enough for me. my garlic press does have little spiny things that push all the way through, which I think helps.

  8. 8

    I love my garlic press too. The key is to keep the paper on the garlic clove – that helps push all of the garlic through. And I don’t add garlic at the beginning either since it cooks so fast.

    I waxed poetic on my garlic press here:

  9. 9

    keep the paper on the garlic clove. that’s freaking brilliant!
    half the reason i was opposed to the leftover garlic in the smashing compartment (even after resmooshing it) was because i had taken the time to peel it.

  10. 10
    taliah williams

    does this recipe freeze well? I have tons of frsh tomatoes and basil to use.

  11. 11

    Just made your yummy sauce!! I haded the onion & garlic together and it turned of fabulous!
    I also have enough tomatoes from the garden for a second batch to mix it up a bit!

  12. 12

    Do you need to de-skin the fresh tomatoes or do you think it adds to the flavour? Your sauce looks yum and I have some ageing cherry tomatoes that need using up!

    • Jane Maynard

      hi lou! it’s been so long since I’ve used fresh tomatoes for the recipe I can’t remember what I did! but knowing myself, I’m sure I didn’t de-skin the tomatoes. I think that might be better, BUT I would just try it without doing that, will save so much time and I think it will still taste great. let me know what you end up doing. and sorry I’m so unhelpful this morning!

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