Capture the essence of ripe tomatoes and aromatic herbs with this delicious homemade Tomato Sauce.
My husband’s grandparents grew more tomatoes than they could eat in a lifetime. Their backyard garden was 3 acres, and they spent many early mornings and late afternoons planting, hoeing, weeding, and harvesting. While they loved for their dinners to be full of homegrown goodies, they also delighted in sharing. They’d bring a full bushel basket to church in summer and make an announcement that the veggies were available for free to good homes. I suspect many families in the poor Appalachian community where they lived were grateful for the gifts.
They also did a lot of canning and freezing. When the tomatoes came in season, it was time for Grandma to dig out her big pot and cook up several batches of tomato sauce. “There’s nothing better,” she would say, “than tomatoes from the garden in the middle of February.” I love pulling a bag of homemade tomato sauce out of the freezer and amping up spaghetti or rotini. But the sauce also enhances other family favorites, like adding a spoonful to this Tomato and Feta Tart or using it as a base for Tomato Ravioli Soup.
Now that his grandparents are gone, we’re down to our last freezer bag of tomato sauce. While I don’t think we’ll be so bold as to plant a three-acre garden, I know we’ll need plenty of tomato plants next year. For us. And to share.
Why You Will Love This Recipe //
One word: homemade. Store-bought sauces are convenient, but they just can’t measure up to homemade sauces that you can tweak until it’s a perfect match to your taste buds. I also love that I can make a big batch and store it for a while.
- 3 pounds fresh red tomatoes (any variety, diced)
- 1 onion (finely diced)
- 3 cloves garlic (crushed)
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- ¼ cup fresh basil (chopped)
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper (ground)
How to Make // The Steps
Step 1: In a large heavy-based pot, drizzle in the olive oil, then add the diced onion, garlic, and oregano and sauté for 5 minutes.
Step 2: Add in the fresh tomatoes, stir, and cook on low for another 20-25 minutes until the tomatoes have turned saucy.
Step 3: Stir in the basil, salt, and pepper and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Step 4: Use a stick blender to blend the sauce to a consistency you enjoy. Pour it into sealable jars, and place it into the fridge.
Tips & Tricks for a Perfect Tomato Sauce
- No pressure, but the sauce’s flavor depends almost entirely on the tomatoes you choose. I recommend ripe, juicy tomatoes. Also, the fresher the tomato, the better your sauce will taste.
- When simmering your sauce, remember to stir often to prevent burning. Keep the heat low and let the tomatoes break down gradually, releasing their natural sugars and tang.
- If you want a deeper flavor, you can let the sauce simmer even longer. Just don’t let it scorch or turn into a thick lump.
- The texture of your tomato sauce is up to you—you can keep it chunky, blend it smooth, or meet somewhere in the middle.
Sautéing the herbs is a process called blooming, which releases the essential oils of the herbs and adds depth to the sauce’s flavor profile.
Sometimes good fresh tomatoes are hard to find—and sometimes, you just need an easier route. Canned tomatoes are a fine option. Look for the diced ones that are not heavily seasoned. You may need to adjust the quantities of the other ingredients to keep the taste balanced.
Toss in whatever vegetables your heart desires—bell peppers or zucchini are common interlopers. Dice them similar to the size of the onions and garlic.
Throw in a splash of wine or a dash of red pepper flakes. Rosemary or thyme are interesting additions, and if you want a real spin on the recipe, add a bit of cream or mascarpone cheese.
Serving Suggestions //
Your pasta will thank you. This flavorful tomato sauce elevates any pasta dish. It can also be used as a pizza base or as a dip for breadsticks.
Make Ahead and How to Store //
Make this ahead of time, and keep several batches on hand. When the sauce is done, let it cool first, then place it in airtight containers or freezer-safe bags. If you’re using it within the week, store it in the fridge. If you have some longer-term plans for it, stash some in the freezer for up to six months. When you’re ready to serve, warm up on medium heat in a saucepan, stirring occasionally. (For frozen sauce, let it thaw out overnight in the refrigerator before reheating).
- 3 pounds fresh red tomatoes any variety, diced
- 1 onion finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic crushed
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- ¼ cup fresh basil chopped
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper ground
- In a large heavy-based pot, drizzle in the olive oil, then add the diced onion, oregano, and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes.
- Add in the fresh tomatoes, stir, and cook on low for another 20-25 minutes until the tomatoes have turned saucy.
- Stir in the basil, salt, and pepper, and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Use a stick blender to blend the sauce to a consistency you enjoy. Then pour it into sealable jars, and place it into the fridge.