Food 101: How To Make Tomato Sauce (or “Red Sauce” if you will…)
Tomato sauce, it’s everywhere. For Italians, it’s on and in everything, to the point that there probably isn’t a single human being in Italy over the age of 7 who doesn’t have an encyclopedic knowledge on how to prepare a pot of sauce. The majority of my family’s heritage is Italian. I grew up in a household where it got tossed on everything from pork to pasta to pizza. Every Sunday was time for everyone to head on over to my aunt’s house for a big-ass Italian dinner with pasta and antipasti and bread and etc… You get the picture. And yet, I have a confession to make, I actually don’t really like tomato sauce all that much.
Yes I know, I know, blasphemy. But in all honesty I felt like the fact tomato sauce had to be thrown onto every edible item on planet Earth kind of made me sick of it by the time I hit my teen years. Now, I don’t necessarily hate it, but it just feels overused and homogenous to me. That may not be a popular opinion, but I feel like many in Italian-American families simply don’t have the guts to actually come forth and say that, for fear of ridicule and mafioso style ” ‘ey, come on.” half-slaps on the cheek.
That all being said, I ironically am a staunch opponent of jar sauces, both because I’m pro-from-scratch on the food front and also because despite my relative lack of enthusiasm for it, I know what a good tomato sauce tastes like. And jar sauce tastes like shit, frankly. Rather, I will admit objectively that having a good tomato sauce technique in the back of your head is a vital skill for most cooks, if for at very least making pizzas.
Believe it or not, making a pot of sauce is relatively easy and doesn’t really require anything fancy. This will make a smallish medium size pot, definitely more than enough for two people, maybe even three, to last a week or so, depending on what you’re using it for. It’ll save for longer than a week, and be heated up just as easily in a smaller pot if need be. The only “out there” step involves use of a blender or better yet, a hand blender. We realize not everyone has one of those, so I’ll mark it as an optional step.
Basic Easy Tomato Sauce Recipe
- 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 tbsp garlic powder
- 1/4 cup onion powder
- 3 tbsp parsley
- 5 coarsely chopped basil leaves OR 2 tbsp dried basil
- 2 tbsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tbsp oregano
- 1 tbsp salt
- 2 tsp black pepper
- Open your can of tomatoes and pour it into a medium saucepot.
- OPTIONAL: If you have a hand blender, puree the tomatoes until they’re perfectly smooth. If you don’t have one but still want to try this, you can also use a regular blender or a food processor to achieve the same consistency. Bear in mind, this isn’t really necessary, especially if you get a nice can of smooth tomatoes, or alternately if you don’t mind chunky sauces.
- Place the tomatoes on low-medium heat on the stove, and allow to heat for about 5 minutes. While it does this, take the time to chop your garlic cloves and/or basil leaves too.
- Add in the garlic, garlic powder, onion powder, parsley, basil, and oregano. Stir until smooth, and raise the heat to high.
- On high flame, stir the sauce until it reaches a low boil. Stir for another minute or two, and then lower to medium once again. Add the salt and pepper, stir, and then cover the pot.
- Let the sauce cook covered for 10 minutes, stirring midway between. Uncover, and your sauce is ready to serve!
Honestly, this shouldn’t take more than a half hour. And most of the ingredients are things you should all have lying around anyway. So why bother buying jars of sauce? A can of tomatoes is cheaper, and you’re getting more than you would of a jar anyway. Not to mention, jar sauce tastes disgusting and causes AIDS.
(Okay, not really, but still, it tastes awful.)
- As mentioned, this sauce will save well in the fridge for well over a week, and even two weeks if you take care of it.
- Beyond the fridge, you can even FREEZE the tomato sauce and keep it for basically as long as you want. When you need it, defrost it and take whatever you want out, then heat it up in a pot or in the microwave.
- The good thing about tomato sauce is, like any sauce, you can pretty much customize it to however you want. Want extra kick? Add more garlic, and maybe even chili pepper. Prefer a sweeter sauce? Add in 1/4 cup of sugar. Change the salt to make it stronger or milder, etc… It can be made completely to taste since it’s really nothing more than a big mix of flavors in liquid form.