For some reason, I don’t particularly like tomatoes themselves, but I love tomato sauce.
Forget about jarred pasta sauces. They may be convenient, but the ingredients are usually a horror show of preservatives and mystery additives. It’s just not worth it – it’s way too quick and easy to make your own sauce.
If you have the time and energy, you can use fresh tomatoes. But you want to peel and seed them, which is a bit of a process. For everyday sauces, I keep chopped tomatoes in the cupboard. It’s a shortcut but it means you can make homemade tomato sauce in a flash.
I currently use Pomi chopped tomatoes. They come in 750g (~26 oz) boxes and stack nicely in the cupboard. I also like diced San Marzano tomatoes (even though the ones you can get in markets in the U.S. aren’t exactly “real”), but the Pomi boxes are BPA free (unlike most canned tomatoes), taste like actual tomatoes, are super-convenient, and there’s nothing added.
Honestly, most nights that I need a tomato sauce, I dump a box of the Pomi chopped tomatoes in a sauce pot, sprinkle in some dried oregano and basil, add a little sugar, and maybe some Sriracha sauce, and simmer for a bit. It takes 10-15 minutes, tops. It usually takes longer to cook the pasta.
However, here’s a recipe for when you have a little more time:
- 1.5 pounds of tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped – about 1 box or 1 large can
- 1 medium onion (I like red, but white or yellow is fine), diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
- 2 tablespoons Safflower (or other high-heat) oil
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons dried basil
- fresh-ground pepper (to taste)
- salt (to taste)
- 1/4 cup turbinado sugar (optional)
- 2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce (optional)
- Heat oil over medium-high heat in a sauce pan.
- Sauté garlic until it smells good.
- Add onion and carrot and sauté until the onions start to turn translucent and the carrots start to soften.
- Stir in chopped tomatoes.
- Season with 1 tablespoons each of oregano and basil.
- Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce starts to bubble.
- Decrease heat to a simmer.
- Add sugar to taste, if desired. The carrots should already provide some sweetness, but you may want a sweeter sauce.
- If you want a thinner sauce, use an immersion blender to adjust the chunkiness as desired.
- Stir in remainder of oregano and basil.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- If desired, squirt in Sriracha sauce.
Makes about 25-30 ounces of sauce, depending on your add-ins and how long it simmers – enough for about a pound or two of spaghetti, depending on how much you like. You can double the recipe to make enough for a typical lasagna.
The longer you simmer the sauce, the better it gets. It also gets thicker and less watery as well, which can be helpful if you want to use it for pizza or lasagna.
You can add in cooked meat or vegetables as needed for your use.