Basic tomato sauce is a recipe all home cooks should have in their back pockets. It just takes simple ingredients, easy methods, and will result in big flavour if you take the time to cook it right. In my household, jarred tomato sauce is not a thing, and it was never a thing growing up. My Nonna grew her own tomatoes and canned them every year. Same thing on my husband’s side. I actually don’t think I’ve ever had tomato sauce from a jar, unless I’ve unwittingly eaten it at a restaurant. Home made is the only option. In fact, some Italians may not even consider it homemade unless you grew, picked, and canned the tomatoes yourself.
Thankfully, I’ve kept this recipe simple (no tomato growing required), with fewer than 10 ingredients and mostly hands-off cooking. I use canned crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and jarred pasata, which is strained tomatoes. Onion, garlic, chilies, and basil enhance the flavour. Once the flavour enhancers cook down in a bit of olive oil, you add all the tomato ingredients, cover the pot, and just let it cook for a couple hours. This long cooking time is absolutely necessary if you want your sauce to taste like anything other than the inside of a can. The result is a super savoury, umami-rich sauce with just the right amount of acidity and sweetness from the tomatoes. It’s absolutely perfect.
This recipe makes about 8-10 cups of sauce, or enough for about 10 servings. I usually use half the sauce right away and freeze the other half until I want pasta again. You can also use some of the leftovers in other dishes like Sloppy Joes, or Spaghetti Bolognese. I really hope you’ll give this basic tomato sauce a try. If you make it once, store-bought sauce won’t ever taste the same. Leave me a note in the comments to let me know how you like this recipe!