Basics: Tomato sauce


This might be too simple, but I still feel the need to share. I have a lot of really simple recipes (if you can even call them that) that I make on the regular and I figured I could turn them into a baby series. Basically, they’re….well, basics. Most of these “recipes” are more of a technique and result in a dish that can easily be built upon.

I figured this sauce was the perfect introduction to my basics because it’s the epitome of a starting point. The original recipe calls for just three ingredients. However, since I can’t follow rules to save my life, I have four ingredients here. I’ve seen this all over the internet for years, and it originated from Marcella Hazan – this is her Famous Tomato Sauce. Bloggers like me have been sharing it for years, and for good reason. This one is a gem. Frankly, I might be the last person to be sharing this one but I’m totally okay with that.


As you can see this is just a can of whole tomatoes, butter, an onion and garlic (technically optional). Put it all in a pan and let it simmer away for 30-40 minutes, occasionally stirring and crushing the tomatoes. And THAT’S IT. No joke.

On it’s own, it’s a slightly sweet, fresh-tasting sauce. The butter, onion and garlic give it the perfect taste without being overwhelming at all. However, the beauty of this sauce is that you can just keep adding to it until you figure out the perfect sauce for you and your loved ones. Sometimes I add a pinch of red pepper flakes at the end to up the spice factor. Once I added a halved jalapeño to the sauce as it was cooking which was a really good decision. Have some grated parmesan cheese sitting around? Stir a handful in after it’s cooked (and then sprinkle more on top)! And of course, if you’re partial to basil you really can’t go wrong with a few fresh leaves before serving.


I think I’m supposed to tell you to use San Marzano canned tomatoes here. But listen, sometimes I can’t actually find San Marzano tomatoes so I really wouldn’t worry about it. I mean, if you find a can than certainly use them. But don’t cry about it if you can’t (not that you would cry over lost tomatoes).

So how do I use this sauce? Well, I’ve used it over regular pasta (duh), in lasagna, on pizza, in wraps, etc. I can’t even tell you how versatile it is. I like to make it on the weekends and then either keep it in the fridge to use throughout the week or even freeze it if I don’t think I’ll use it all. Again, so easy. So versatile. This is a secret weapon-type recipe, people. Get on it.


Basic Tomato Sauce

Makes approximately 2 cups

1 28 oz can of whole tomatoes

4 tablespoons butter

1 onion, halved

3 garlic cloves, smashed (optional for you, not optional for me)

Pour the tomatoes into a medium sized pan (make sure the sides go up a little high since this is going to splatter a bit as it cooks). Add the butter, onion halves, cut side down, and the smashed garlic cloves. Bring the mixture to a simmer and keep it that way for a good 30-40 minutes. Occasionally give the whole pot a stir and smash the tomatoes against the side of the pan. You want everything to break down, but it’s okay to keep it a bit chunky. Totally your call! When it’s to the consistency of your liking, remove the onion and garlic cloves (okay fine, I normally keep the garlic in but you certainly don’t need to) and then you’re done!

Serve over pasta, on pizza, whatever!

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