Tomato sauce can be struggle. I don’t love any jarred sauce–there is not enough flavor for me and I don’t like the extra sugar, salt, and other ingredients that I don’t really want or need. But I’ve also struggled to find a homemade sauce that doesn’t have an overpowering tomato flavor. I know, I know–it’s tomato sauce. It should probably taste like tomatoes. But I don’t like feeling like all I’m tasting is tomato–I want to taste the aromatics and spices, too.
Grandma’s Tomato Sauce from the Fixate cookbook by fitness trainer Autumn Calabrese fits all my wants–it’s simple to make, it’s full of wholesome ingredients, and it’s got a great flavor! The versatility of the sauce is great, too–we use it for pasta, sloppy joes, panini sandwiches, and pizza. One batch makes about 4 meals worth of sauce, and it is a freezer staple.
I’ve listed the original recipe below, but I make a few tweaks. I omit the cheese rind and opt to add in about 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese because it’s cheaper and I usually have it on hand anyway. I also leave out the wine because we never have wine in the house–although this would be a great excuse to finish off a good bottle! I add 1/4 water instead.
I usually follow Autumn’s advice and use whole canned tomatoes and use my immersion blender to mix it all together once all of the ingredients are added, but you can certainly use a blender or food processor before you add the tomatoes to the pot.
The longer you let this sauce simmer, the better the flavors meld together. You can also add some pre-seasoned diced tomatoes to add some extra flavor (a small can of garlic/oregano/basil diced tomatoes would add some extra flavor!).
Grandma’s Tomato Sauce from Fixate
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 6 oz can tomato paste, no salt added
1/4 cup red wine
2 (28 oz) cans whole peeled tomatoes, blended in food processor or blender
2 tbsp agave nectar (I use pure maple syrup)
1 tsp sea salt or Himalayan salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 3 oz Parmesan or Parmagiano cheese rind
3 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, stirring frequently, until onion is soft and translucent, about 5-6 minutes.
Add garlic and tomato paste, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes. Do not let tomato paste burn.
Add wine, stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes.
Add tomatoes, agave/maple syrup, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low; gently boil, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes.
Add cheese rind. Cook, stirring occasionally, for one hour.
Add basil. Mix well.
***I separate the sauce into 1.5 cup portion sizes. This sauce keeps well in the freezer!