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Red tomato sauce
Maren Caruso/Stone/Getty Images
Make a basic tomato sauce and then jazz it up with one of the variations using basil, sage, goat cheese, or balsamic vinegar. Sauce may be made up to 1 week in advance or frozen up to 3 months.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes


  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled, coarsely chopped (2 cups)
  • 1 large carrot or 2 small carrots, peeled, coarsely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped
  • 5 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped (4 cups) or 2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes, drained, coarsely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • Coarse sea salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste


In a large heavy skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute the onion and carrot for 2 to 3 minutes, reduce the heat to medium, cover and sweat the vegetables over medium heat for about 25 minutes or until soft and golden.

Add the garlic, stir well, cover and sweat for 5 minutes more or until softened. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes to blend the flavors.

Push the cooked sauce through a food mill or blend in a pressure cooker and push through a sturdy, small-holed strainer into a large bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.

The sauce can be cooled and stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or frozen up to 3 months.

Yield: 8 servings

• Add 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil at the very end of cooking.

• Fry 6 to 8 fresh sage leaves in olive oil until golden brown. Gently crumble the sage over the pasta just before serving.

• Add 6 ounces of fresh goat cheese to the sauce.

• Add additional olive oil.

• Add 2 ounces of good-quality balsamic vinegar.

Per Serving: Cal 108 (59% fat) Fat 7 g (1 g sat) Fiber 2 g No chol Sodium 50 mg Carb 10 g Calcium 18 mg

Recipe Source: Zingerman's Guide to Good Eating: How to Choose the Best Bread, Cheeses, Olive Oil, Pasta, Chocolate, and Much More by Ari Weinzweig, Zingermans Restaurant (Houghton Mifflin)
Reprinted with permission.

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