Homemade tomato sauce is simple to make and in my opinion, superior to store bought sauce. It’s easy and like any recipe it gets easier the more times you make it. If you like tomato sauce try making it once a month and see how many different ways you can use it.
In late summer I try to make all things tomato using the explosion of fresh tomatoes available. For the other nine months of the year I make sauces and soups using canned tomatoes. They're convenient, inexpensive and better than the tasteless fresh tomatoes at the grocery store. I've always have a few cans in my pantry.
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Chunky or Smooth Tomato Sauce
If you’re making homemade tomato sauce you get to decide on the consistency every time you make it. My husband loves to puree his tomato sauce but I’m always on the fence. I enjoy the smoothest hummus possible and drinkable soup shooters, but I like texture too.
I’m never sure if the extra effort to puree the sauce plus and a little extra clean up is worth it. In our kitchen the person cooking decides to puree or not to puree.
Blender vs Food Mill
Once the decision is made then you need to decide what tool to use. My husband loves to put the immersion blender right into the pot and puree the whole thing. The hand blender is the easiest tool to do this as moving hot sauce in and out of a food processor or regular blender can be tricky and messy. However, any of these methods will give you a decent pureed sauce.
Decent, but not the velvety smooth texture you get from using a food mill.
A food mill is a simple, inexpensive tool that sits on top of a bowl. Turning the crank moves a metal plate that forces the food through the sieve on the bottom. This method holds back some of the fibres no matter how long you keep turning. This is ideal to keep out seeds, skins and cores when making jam or jelly. For tomato sauce it keeps out the fibre from the vegetables. French chefs assure cooks that it leaves all the flavour but seeing that bulky mass of squished vegetables always causes us to debate this practise. Is it wasteful? What else can we do with it? Would the dog eat it?
But there is no debate about the texture. A food mill wins hand down to give you the most velvety smooth texture for any sauce. You can easily see the difference in texture in the two photos in this post. Try both ways and see what you think.
Get The Tools
You need nothing more than the basics to make homemade tomato sauce. Here is a list of tools that I find helpful.
- Sturdy cutting board that won't slide around, mine is 12" x 18" and ¾" thick
- 9-inch or 10-inch Chef’s knife (if you’re going to cook I suggest you learn to use a real knife, not a paring knife).
- A decent set of pots and pans like Cuisinart or Paderno, not the most expensive but probably not the ones you bought in college
- An immersion blender, Magic Bullet or high end Vitamix blender
- The trusty old food processor that some of us couldn't live without
- A food mill like OXO brand or this one from Granite Ware
- 4-cup wide mouth Mason jars for storing sauce without occupying too much space in your fridge
Let me know in the comments below if you tried making tomato sauce for the first time or if you’ve been making it for years.
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Recipes Using Tomato Sauce
Tomato sauce goes well on pasta but there are so many more ways to enjoy it. Here are just a few of my ideas.
- Top baked spaghetti squash with butter, tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese
- Celebrate the Mediterranean with this Chicken with Olive Tapenade and Tomato Basil Sauce by adding lots of fresh basil to this recipe.
- Stuffed Vegetables, zucchini and eggplant come to mind, can be paired with a nice tomato sauce.
- Serve as a dipping sauce with Calamari.
- My Italian Meatloaf with Pine Nuts is served with tomato sauce on top.
- Use in your favourite lasagna recipe like this Pesto Lasagna.
Homemade Tomato Sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 large carrot, finely chopped
- 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
- 2 - 28 oz cans diced tomatoes with liquid (28 oz/ 796ml)
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- ½ teaspoon basil
- 1 whole clove, crushed
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ cup red wine
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat oil and butter in large pot over medium heat.
- Sauté onion until transparent, about 5 minutes.
- Add carrot and celery and sauté another 5 minutes.
- Add tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, bay leaf, oregano, basil, clove, sugar and wine. Increase heat and bring sauce to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat, simmer uncovered for 1 hour or until vegetables are soft.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve chunky or puree using a hand blender or food mill for a rich, thick sauce.