Basic All-Purpose Tomato Sauce Recipe

The simple yet flavorful all-purpose tomato sauce is a staple in Italian cuisine. It's packed with rich, complex flavors that come together to create a taste that's perfect for pasta dishes, pizza, and more. The key to a great tomato sauce lies in the balance of sweet, savory, and tangy notes. "The sweetness comes from the sugar and onion, which caramelizes and adds depth to the flavor," says recipe developer, Milena Manolova. "The savory elements come from the garlic, which adds a pungent punch, and the oregano, which provides a warm and earthy aroma. The addition of fresh herbs like basil and parsley elevates the sauce, adding more flavor and balanced complexity without overpowering the sauce. The tanginess comes from the tomatoes, which add a bright and refreshing flavor." 

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Once the sauce is ready, you can use it as a base for your favorite pasta dishes. For a simple and satisfying meal, toss the sauce with cooked pasta and sprinkle with fresh basil. You can also use the sauce to make pizza, quesadillas, or even as a topping for grilled chicken or fish.

Gather all the ingredients for the basic all-purpose tomato sauce recipe

For this delicious tomato sauce, you need only 10 simple ingredients: tomato passata, onion, olive oil, garlic, oregano, basil, parsley, sugar, salt, and black pepper. 

Step 1: Cook the onion

In a saucepan, over medium heat, add olive oil and chopped onion. Cook until soft, about 2-3 minutes.

Step 2: Add garlic

Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute or until fragrant.

Step 3: Add dry oregano

Add the dry oregano and cook for 30 seconds.

Step 4: Add the rest of the ingredients

Pour the tomato passata in and add the parsley, basil, sugar, salt, and black pepper. 

Step 5: Simmer the sauce

Cook for about 10-15 minutes on medium to low heat, stirring frequently.

Step 6: Use as needed

Remove it from the stove. Use right away, or transfer to a jar.

How should you serve this basic all-purpose tomato sauce?

This versatile tomato sauce can be served with a variety of dishes. Toss the sauce with cooked pasta, such as spaghetti, for a classic and comforting dish. You can also add other ingredients to your pasta dishes, such as grated Parmesan cheese, fresh herbs, or your favorite vegetables. Spread the sauce on top of your pizza dough before adding your favorite toppings. It will add a rich and flavorful base to your pizza.

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Fill your quesadillas with a mixture of cheese, shredded chicken or beef, and your homemade tomato sauce. This is a quick and easy meal that is perfect for a family dinner or a party. You can also use the sauce as a topping for grilled chicken or fish. The sauce will add a touch of sweetness and tanginess to your protein, and it will also help to keep it moist. Finally, consider adding a spoonful of the sauce to your tacos for a flavorful and saucy twist. If you like it spicy, you can mix in some hot sauce or sprinkle red chile flakes.

How do you store basic all-purpose tomato sauce?

Allow the sauce to cool completely. Transfer the sauce to an airtight container such as a glass jar or plastic container. Avoid using metal containers, as they can react with the acidic tomatoes. Store the sauce in the refrigerator. It will keep for up to 4 days. 

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If you'd like to freeze the sauce, portion it into freezer-safe containers or bags. Aim for single-serving portions to avoid having to thaw the entire batch. Remove as much air as possible from the containers or bags. This helps prevent freezer burns. Label the containers or bags with the date and content. This ensures you can easily identify and use the sauce within a reasonable time. Store the frozen sauce in the freezer where it will keep for up to 3-4 months.

To reheat the sauce from the refrigerator, simply transfer it to a saucepan and heat over low heat until warmed through. To reheat frozen sauce, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator. Once thawed, reheat and use in your cooking.

What can I use instead of passata?

Crushed tomatoes are a fantastic alternative to passata, giving your sauce a chunkier texture and a robust tomato flavor. You can cook them the same way as passata, but if you'd like to have a smooth sauce, then use a blender or food processor to achieve that smooth consistency. A can of tomato sauce can be another option. It's more processed than crushed or diced tomatoes, making it velvety and ready to cook with the other ingredients. You can even whip up passata by blending fresh tomatoes. Just toss them into a blender or food processor, and you'll have homemade tomato goodness ready to use!

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Also, San Marzano tomatoes are a type of plum tomato that are known for their sweetness and lack of acidity. You can use San Marzano tomatoes in a 1:1 ratio with passata. You can also use a combination of different types of tomatoes to make your sauce. For example, you could use a mixture of crushed tomatoes, San Marzano tomatoes, and tomato paste. This will give your sauce a more complex flavor profile. No matter which substitute you choose, make sure to sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil before adding the tomatoes. This will help to develop the flavors of the sauce and create a more flavorful sauce.

Basic All-Purpose Tomato Sauce Recipe

4.9 (15 ratings)

This simple all-purpose tomato sauce is packed with flavors that come together to create a taste that's perfect for pasta dishes, pizza, and more.

Prep Time
5
minutes
Cook Time
15
minutes
servings
2
cups
Bowl with tomato sauce
Total time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ⅔ cup chopped yellow onion
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon dry oregano
  • 2 cups tomato passata
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Directions

  1. In a saucepan, over medium heat, add olive oil and chopped onion. Cook until soft, about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute or until fragrant.
  3. Add the dry oregano and cook for 30 seconds.
  4. Pour the tomato passata in and add the parsley, basil, sugar, salt, and black pepper.
  5. Cook for about 10-15 minutes on medium to low heat, stirring frequently.
  6. Remove it from the stove. Use right away, or transfer to a jar.

Nutrition

Calories per Serving 104
Total Fat 3.7 g
Saturated Fat 0.5 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 17.7 g
Dietary Fiber 3.1 g
Total Sugars 10.3 g
Sodium 377.6 mg
Protein 2.6 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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