A rich and savory homemade tomato sauce recipe with garden-fresh flavors is what we’re introducing to you today.
No more having to eye those jars of beautiful and delicious red sauce at Italian restaurants. We’ll help you bring it to your home kitchen— more nutritious and with better flavors.
What Is Tomato Sauce?
Tomato sauce is a popular ingredient that’s mostly used as bases for salsas and pasta dishes.
This sauce is usually made by cooking tomatoes together with aromatic herbs and spices into a thick sauce. Fresh tomatoes are simmered on medium-low heat to break down the soft flesh and concentrate the rich flavors.
Depending on the desired thickness, sometimes, tomato skins are scalped off so only the flesh and pulp are used.
Tomato Sauce Nutrition
One cup of this homemade tomato sauce will provide you 305 calories. Other nutritional values are 26.8 grams of carbohydrates, 14.9 grams of sugar, and 1219 milligrams of potassium.
Is Tomato Sauce Healthy?
This homemade tomato sauce recipe is low-sodium, cholesterol-free, and no trans fat. It’s also low in carbohydrates and fat, making it suitable for many diets.
The high content of potassium in tomatoes helps build strong bones by increasing bone mineral density. It can also prevent muscle cramps, risk of kidney stones, and control blood pressure.
What Are the Best Tomatoes for Tomato Sauce?
1. Fresh Tomatoes
The biggest benefit of using fresh tomatoes for making sauces is that they break down easily when put onto heat. However, to achieve the bright and rich flavor, you’ll have to add tomato paste to the fresh tomatoes.
If you’re able to find tomatoes that have firm flesh with little juice and few seeds, you’re lucky. Yes, we’re talking about the paste tomatoes (aka plum tomatoes)— the fleshy, solid, and succulent Romas and San Marzano.
However, when it comes to flavor, we’d prefer oval tomatoes more— they’re the perfect choices for sauces. In which, Polish Linguisa and Amish Paste are by far the best since they’re fresh, sweet, and firm.
After all, we’ve decided to come up with a basic recipe that fits every household with diverse interests and culinary customs. Therefore, we stay with the starter pack by using the common red variety of tomatoes.
No matter the difference between the varieties, every one of them will make a delicious vibrant tomato sauce. So we’d say you shouldn’t stress over which tomato is the best for tomato sauce— it’ll be good either way.
2. Canned Tomatoes
There are two reasons why you might choose to use canned tomatoes for your recipe. The first is convenience, and the second is that they are always ripe and succulent.
You have two choices when going for canned tomatoes: whole canned tomatoes and crushed tomatoes.
Whole canned tomatoes are nearly the same as fresh ones but packed with more flavor. Crushed tomatoes, on the other hand, are a bit chunky and often mixed with tomato puree.
Canned tomatoes are usually selected from the best farm crops, then canned when perfectly ripe and added with various preservatives. This explains why they don’t get soggy and over-ripe easily— at least not until they arrive at your kitchen pantry.
Canned tomatoes include flavor-enhancing ingredients, so you can use them right away without having to combine them with tomato paste.
Tomato Paste vs Sauce
The main difference between tomato paste and tomato sauce is their positions on the rank of consistency. Among products made primarily from tomatoes, tomato paste is the thickest, purée is slightly thinner, and sauce is the thinnest.
1. Tomato Sauce
Tomato sauce is a tomato purée that’s cooked on medium-low heat with a spice mix of choice. You can adjust the consistency and acidity by controlling the cooking time.
Then, what is a tomato purée?
Tomato purée is simply fresh and unseasoned tomatoes that’s finely mashed. Deskinned and boiled tomatoes are drained and then blended in a food processor until smooth.
Tomato sauce is widely used as a flavor base for pasta dishes, meat dishes, casseroles, stews, and soups, etc.
You can also add tomato purée straight into your dishes without having to spend time turning it into the sauce. Although it’d probably flatten the flavor, that can be controlled by adjusting the spices that are added along.
2. Tomato Paste
If tomato sauce is cooked long enough, it will reduce to a thick paste. That’s how tomato paste is made.
Tomato paste has a dark crimson color and is more intense in flavor. It’s concentrated so there’s no excess liquid left when it’s added to recipes.
Substitute for Tomato Sauce
In most cases, tomato paste is the best substitution for tomato sauce.
If sauce is used as a mixing ingredient, then it can be swapped with ketchup or tomato soup. You might need to cook them together with other spices to enhance the desired flavor.
How to Make Tomato Sauce from Tomato Paste
Making sauce from tomato paste is a hassle-free job.
First, sautée garlic and onion in olive oil or butter, then add tomato paste and water and cook for 15 minutes. As the ingredients melt together and form a purée, the sauce is ready to be served.
You can also add your favorite seasonings to the sauce when it’s cooking.
How to Make Homemade Tomato Sauce with Fresh Tomatoes
Step 1: Prep the tomatoes
If you’re using fresh tomatoes: Peel and chop fresh tomatoes into small chunks, or run them through a blender to mash into a thick puree.
Step 2: Cook the tomatoes (1)
Heat olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic for 5 minutes until soft.
Step 3: Cook the tomatoes (2)
Add tomatoes, Hunt’s tomato paste, and paprika. Bring the pot to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes.
Step 4: Strain
Remove the sauce from heat and strain it with a mesh strainer/sieve. Use a spatula to press solid components through the sieve until they’re mashed down to a smooth and silky sauce.
Step 5: Serve
Use immediately as a condiment for your dishes or preserve for future recipes.
How to Thicken Tomato Sauce
People have different ideas of how the consistency of a tomato sauce is considered perfect. Some people prefer it chunky, while others would say a puréed smooth gravy is what they yearn for.
Normally, thin tomato sauces work best as a condiment (on pizza for example). Likewise, a thicker sauce will be more suitable for recipes that require cooking it with other ingredients over high heat.
In this recipe, we aimed for a thick and slightly smooth tomato sauce. It’s versatile and can be used in so many simple homemade dishes.
Regardless of the texture, we’ve picked up the following tips from the cooking process. They may save you more time and effort:
If you use fresh or whole peeled tomatoes, make sure you chop them into chunks or mash them smooth before cooking. The more they’re pulsed, the smoother the sauce will be.
However, if you love a really chunky tomato puree, simply skip this step. The tomatoes will eventually break down on their own when simmering over the heat.
Even when you’ve already mashed your tomatoes thoroughly, straining the sauce after cooking is still required. Straining it with a mesh strainer helps get rid of unwanted chunks and result in a flawlessly silky smooth sauce.
Cooking time also decides whether your sauce will be thick or thin. The longer you let it simmer, the thicker it will be.
However, if you want a thinner sauce, we suggest you don’t let it to simmer for less than 15 minutes. Otherwise, the flavors won’t have enough time to blend together.
Recipes with Tomato Sauce
Tomato sauce has been a basic ingredient for countless recipes— from pizza, pasta, to meaty dishes. Not only is it super versatile, but also a flavor base for many sophisticated entrées.
The very first thing to pop up in people’s minds when they’re having tomato sauce on-hand is definitely spaghetti. Once in a while, you’ll need to treat yourself a favorite pasta dish with a generous amount of sauce!
For pasta casseroles like lasagna, tomato sauce surely is a must-have ingredient. You may want to cook it thicker than usual and add extra spices so it forms a flavorful sauce base.
Meatloaf has been popular with the American people for so long. It is basically meat combined with seasonings, eggs, breadcrumbs, and then formed in the loaf shape.
The loaf can be topped with tomato sauce before putting in the oven to bake. The meat used in meatloaf recipes can either be ground beef, lamb, pork, chicken, or turkey.
4. Pork Chops
Most pork chops recipes call for a large chunk of meat. People usually prefer a quick rub of spices or a spread of sauce on the meat before bake.
As everything’s cooking in the oven, the sauce will soak into the chop and result in a tender and juicy meat.
How Long Does Tomato Sauce Last in the Fridge?
To preserve the leftovers for later use, simply let the sauce cool down to room temperature and transfer it into airtight containers of glass jars with lids.
When refrigerated, tomato sauce is edible within three days.
Can You Freeze Tomato Sauce
Yes, you can. However, before freezing, make sure you’ve let it cool completely.
When frozen, the expiry period of tomato sauce is 3-4 months’ time. Longer than that and it will probably be off-flavored and develop freezer burns.
To reheat, simply transfer the frozen sauce on the stove and cook it again without adding any extra liquid.
Homemade Tomato Sauce Recipe
- 25 oz fresh tomato
- 3 tsp garlic minced
- 4 oz onion chopped
- 2 tsp paprika
- 3 tbsp Hunt’s tomato paste
- 3 tbsp olive oil
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- Prepare the tomatoes:
- If you’re using fresh tomatoes: Peel and chop them into small chunks, or run them through a blender until they form a thick puree.
- If you’re using whole peeled/canned tomatoes: Put them straight into the blender to mash into a puree.
- Heat olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic for 5 minutes until soft.
- Add tomatoes, Hunt’s tomato paste, and paprika. Bring the pot to a boil. Reduce to a simmer right after.
- Allow to simmer for 15 minutes.
- Remove from heat. Strain the tomato sauce with a mesh strainer/sieve, using a spatula to press solid components through the sieve until they’re mashed down to a smooth and silky sauce.
- Use immediately as a condiment or an ingredient for your dishes.
- To preserve the leftovers for later use, simply let the sauce cool down to room temperature and transfer it into freezer containers of glass jars with lids.
- If refrigerated, tomato sauce is edible within three days; if frozen, the expiry period will be three months.
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