fresh tomato sauce

Around this time every summer, I see the best signs at the markets: “Ugly but tasty!” “Pretty on the inside!” “Don’t judge a tomato by its cover!” Beneath them are usually buckets of craggly misshapen tomato beasts, with coarse seams like they’d been stitched back together after some rough past and distinctly un-heirloom colors. At prices like a dollar a pound, obviously, they were destined for sauce.

matersmake an Xinto boiling watereasy peeling

But how to turn a bucket of awesome into a mindbogglingly delicious tomato sauce? I really thought I had it down. A few weeks ago, I hauled home six pounds for six bucks and me and my assistant proceeded to cook them down, and cook them down and wow, am I still cooking three hours later? Right, I forgot to seed them. And the seeds imparted this almost bitterish tinge. And I realized that I didn’t bring these cheap tomatoes home very often because I wasn’t that confident I could turn them into what I wanted to. Obviously, I was poised for an intervention.

naked tomatoeshalved, but they should be quarteredsqueezing out the seedsroughly chopped

I consulted the Silver Spoon. Lidia, Mario, Anne Burell and every best-rated tomato sauce I could find on web recipe databases and I set out with a plan: How to Turn a Bucket of Cheap Tomatoes into a Killer Pot of Tomato Sauce. I peeled, seeded and roughly chopped. I minced a mirepoix. I cooked and stirred and tweaked and stirred some more and half pureed the sauce and then my husband came home and said, “You made this yourself? It tastes like Prego!” And I wasn’t even offended. Mostly because he spent the next week claiming he was joking, but I knew what he meant: It tasted like a finished product. It was ready for its closeup. And now it’s your turn.


One year ago: Tomato and Corn Pie and Nectarine Galette
Two years ago: Marinated Eggplant with Capers and Mint
Three years ago: Double Chocolate Torte and White Bean and Roasted Red Pepper Dip
Four years ago: Penne a la Vodka and Belgian Brownies

Fresh Tomato Sauce
[How to Turn a Bucket of Cheap Tomatoes into a Perfect Pot of Sauce]

I’m offering a flexible recipe here because I’ve realized that there are about as many ways to make tomato sauce as there are people who make it. None of them are wrong (though if you dig around comment sections, no doubt someone will remark that all of them are terribly wrong). All will yield a delicious pot of sauce from fresh tomatoes that is nothing like you can buy in a jar. No fresh tomatoes where you are? Skip the preparation steps and use canned whole tomatoes with some of their juices, add more if needed. Horrified by all of those non-tomato additions? Skip to the end for the most straightforward tomato sauce.

Note: Have a food mill? You can run your tomatoes through them on a fine setting and it will remove both the seeds and the skin. You can then skip the first two sets of instructions. Do I have a food mill? Yes I do! But I like to complicate things, clearly.

Yield: About 4 cups sauce

4 pounds sad, unloved tomatoes (some swear by romas, I’ve had success with all varieties)
1/4 cup olive oil
Small onion
2 to 3 small cloves of garlic
1/2 medium carrot
1/2 stalk of celery
1/2 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
Slivers of fresh basil, to finish

Peel your tomatoes: Bring a pot of water to boil. Cut a small X at the bottom of each tomato. Blanche the tomatoes in the boiling water for 10 to 30 seconds, then either rinse under cold water or shock in an ice water bath. Peeling the tomatoes should now be a cinch. If one gives you trouble, toss it back in the boiling water for another 10 seconds until the skin loosens up. Discard the skins (or get crafty with them).

Finish preparing your tomatoes: If using plum tomatoes, halve each lengthwise. If using beefsteak or another round variety, quarter them. Squeeze the seeds out over a strainer over a bowl and reserve the juices. (You can discard the seeds, or get crafty with them.) Either coarsely chop you tomatoes on a cutting board or use a potato masher to do so in your pot, as you cook them in a bit.

Prepare your vegetables: I finely chop my onion, and mince my carrot, celery and garlic, as does Bastianich. Batali grates his carrots. Burell pulses all four on the food processor to form a paste. All of these methods work.

Cook your sauce: Heat your olive oil in a large pot over meduim. Cook your onions, carrots, celery and garlic, if you’re using them, until they just start to take on a little color, about 10 minutes. I really like to concentrate their flavor as much as possible. Add your tomatoes and bring to a simmer, lowering the heat to medium-low to keep it at a gentle simmer. If you haven’t chopped them yet, use a potato masher to break them up as you cook them. Simmer your sauce, stirring occasionally. At 30 minutes, you’ll have a fine pot of tomato sauce, but at 45 minutes, you might just find tomato sauce nirvana: more caramelized flavors, more harmonized texture.

If your sauce seems to be getting thicker than you want it to be, add back the reserved tomato juice as need. If your sauce is too lumpy for your taste, use an immersion blender to break it down to your desired texture. (“Blasphemy!” some will say, but they’re not in the kitchen with you. So there.) Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and more to taste. I like somewhere between 1/2 and 1 teaspoon for 4 pounds of tomatoes. Scatter fresh basil over the pot before serving. Taste once more. Swear you’ll never buy jarred sauce again.

More ways to play around: There are innumerable ways to tweak your tomato sauce. Some like a pinch of red pepper flakes cooked with the carrots/celery/garlic and onion in the beginning. Some add them at the end. Some swear by a glug of red wine added with the tomatoes. Others insist that a tablespoon of tomato paste will give your relatively quick-cooked sauce a longer-cooked flavor. Have fun with it.

To play around as little as possible: Skip the onion, carrot and celery. Just cook your tomatoes for 30 to 45 minutes and at the end, drizzle in some olive oil or melted butter. If you have time, you can infuse that oil or butter with garlic and basil. Season to taste with salt. Wonder why you ever added so many ingredients to something so obviously perfect without them.

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294 comments on fresh tomato sauce

  1. Ooo – this would be heaven to freeze up for cold winter nights! I continue to make the moroccan spiced spaghetti squash, so would save the sauce to add on to a similar squash preparation!


  2. Jen

    Deb! Nailed it! We just finished canning 30 lbs of tomatoes yesterday, but there are a few lingering…now their fate is clear.

  3. Having a garden with around 15 tomato plants in the backyard, I went ahead and invested in a food mill. Don’t have to peel or seed! Looks wonderful though. Nothing better than a fresh tomato sauce. Love to make my fresh marinara into a vodka cream sauce as well. Heavenly!

  4. Quite by accident, I “discovered” tomato sauce from scratch – but even more quick and dirty than you describe. I was never able to toss the beautiful organic heirlooms that got squished in transit from me to the farm box as it landed on the kitchen table. Even when receiving more than I could possibly eat, and watching them turn wrinkly and ugly, sauce has been the best solution. Nary a tomato goes wasted in my house ever again.

    After heating a little garlic in oil in a pan, add coarsely chopped tomatoes – wrinkly skins, seeds, and all (‘cept any mold zones) and saute the heck out of the contents over medium to high heat. Add any herbs or other desired seasonings as you watch the mixture thicken. The tomato essence shines, and the final concoction is pure bliss over pasta, roasted chicken, and even meatloaf.

  5. Well I’m a total tomato junkie so of course I’ll be trying this recipe asap. I seriously come home from the market with a pound of these babies every few days…I’m thrilled at the thought of doing more with them than dousing with olive oil and pepper!

  6. Tula

    What timing! I just brought home a big $10 box of plum tomato “seconds” for the sole purpose of brewing up a few pots full of sauce that I will then can for future use. I like to mush the tomatoes with my stick blender and then simmer in a crock pot or two with some fresh herbs from my garden and some minced onions. I have arthritic hands, so potato mashers are out for the quantity of sauce I’m making. Nothing wrong with some electrical (or battery-powered) assistance, as long as you get the results you want.

    The only thing that would make the sauce better is some fresh bay leaves. I once had some given to me by a friend who got them in Hawaii, plucked right off the tree! Sooo much better than the ones from the supermarket.

  7. Deb, your sauce looks beautiful! I picked and canned horrifying amounts of tomatoes last summer, and I think by now I may be ready for another round.

  8. memphislizzie

    question… when running the tomatoes through a food mill, I am assuming you simply quarter them, then run them through it raw, before cooking or adding anything else. Is this correct?

    1. deb

      memphislizzie — The food mill will do the tomato prep for you — peeling and seeding. Depending on the one you have, it will probably be easier if you quarter them first.

      radish — All of the “greats” say to seed the tomatoes, no discussion there. I did some research and it sounds like tomato seeds are fine in more quickly cooked sauces, but that in the longer-cooked ones, it can impart some bitterness. Plus, there’s all that water and juices you’re not squeezing out — it takes muuuuch longer to thicken up. Not to say we didn’t enjoy the sauce. I browned and simmered some ground beef in there and we had it with pasta and it was ridiculously satisfying. I just felt that the tomato sauce itself wasn’t particularly transcendent.

      Julie — A big beefsteak can be the better part of a pound (this batch were medium, about half a pound each). A plum tomato is often a quarter of a pound. But those are very rough estimates; they come in all sizes, as you know!

  9. Funny, a few weeks ago, I had some leftover tomato centers, from the gazpacho I’d made. I used them took make a fresh tomato sauce and cooked them down to the point of delirium. And it was great. Do all the tips from the greats say that the seeds make things bitter? Are my taste-buds on an August holiday?

  10. I realize it depends on the size of the tomatoes.. but about how many tomatoes are 4 pounds? I’ve been peeling, seeding and freezing my romas as they ripen.. I guess I can take them on the scale with me, haha. Nothing beats homemade sauce, though!!!

  11. Al

    If you’re like me and too lazy to seed your tomatoes, just add a couple squeezes of tomato paste to the onions before you add in your tomatoes.

  12. Joelle

    This is rather funny…I did the *exact* same thing (except 8lbs) yesterday, but did you butter/onion treatment to the peeled and somewhat seeded fruit. Delicious, but a bit thin and I’m not sure you’d call it “finished.”

    ‘Tis the season!

  13. Think I would have taken offense at the Prego comparison. Icko! I’m sure your sauce was wonderful. And you have to take advantage of the produce when you can, right? We’ll all be moaning come February.

  14. Oh Deb, how did you know? I have some tomatoes (the last from my plants) and have not been able to figure out what to do with them!

    Crushed red pepper will be making an appearance, for sure.


  15. My mother swears by most savory tomato dishes (especially sauce) benefiting from a pinch of sugar to mellow the flavor (though wine would serve the same purpose and more, I suppose).

    But, yes, this is simple and looks incredibly charmingly easy.

    This was such a healthy post, and now I really want fried tomato skins.

  16. Attention Hot and Tired Kitchen Workers! There is no need to peel the tomatoes! I repeat, no need to peel the tomatoes!

    I just figured this out myself, though I’ve heard about it long ago. My new method? Cut maters in half, toss with olive oil and S&P, quick roast in a hot oven for three-quarters of an hour. After a quick wave (zip-through) of your hand-held magic wand, another bit of salt, and—ta-da!—there you have it—a basic, rich, sexy tomato sauce. Jazz it up with spices, or not.

    Want pictures? More info? But, of course!

    (And by the way, Deb, I’m still wanting to try that basic buttery tomato sauce you wrote about once upon a time. Soon…)

  17. Julie

    Can this be used for pasta and as a pizza sauce? Same question for your basic, awesome tomato sauce, and the tomato sauce with onion and butter and moderately easy tomato sauce… can they all be used on both pizza and pasta?

  18. @Deb SO glad you included a link to that Dorie Greenspan post about the tomato skins. As soon as I read it a few days ago I’ve been itching to make tomato sauce so I could try it.

    @Jennifer Jo If it helps at all, I’ve made that sauce a bunch of times now and it’s delivered each time. I use the same NJ San Marzanos that Deb uses in the post and I usually add a couple glugs of wine too. Delicious!

  19. Jessica H

    A food mill is a wonderful thing for small batches of tomatoes, but I have so many tomatoes in my garden that a food mill couldn’t keep up. I found a “Squeezo” food mill at a yard sale and have used that ever since. You put the raw tomatoes in the hopper on top and turn the handle, voila, tomato pulp and juice comes out one end and the seeds and skins come out the other. Cleaning is an issue, so I only use it for big batches that I’ll can. I have seen cheaper versions of the Squeezo in farm and home stores, for about the same price as the food mill I got at Bed Bath and Beyond. If you have tons of tomatoes, I recommend it.

  20. Pasta and tomato sauce (with a side of garlic bread, of course), is my ultimate comfort food. I’ve been making big batches of it with canned tomatoes in an effort to stay ahead of the game and freeze extras, but I think I’ll try getting on the fresh sauce train at least once before summer is over.

  21. Great minds think alike! I was planning on using my fresh home grown tomatoes to make pizza sauce tonight! Thanks for making the mistakes for me! Now I can be sure to have a great pizza tonight ;) and will use his recipe for my next batch of tomatoes!

  22. I’ve been reading your blog for a long time now but this is my first comment. I just have to say – I love how you made something beautiful and delicious out of what look like Franken-matoes!!!

  23. Megan in the tiny house in Cleveland.

    You and I are totally on the same page. I fished a bunch of unloved tomatoes out of my tomato patch and whipped together a lovely sauce for tonight.

    Im in love

  24. I’ve been making “ugly” tomato sauce like crazy and freezing for my winter enjoyment. I like to make mine as unadorned as possible so I can gussy it up as needed for whatever recipe I’m concocting. Simple, relatively unadorned fresh tomato sauce (crushed red pepper and garlic only) equals a great pizza sauce, FYI!

  25. I’m so happy to hear your account because I have never been happy with my sauce made from fresh tomatoes. I’m glad you were happy with the final results. This gives me hope. Thanks.

  26. Beautiful post as always. Love the photos you put with you recipes. And how cute is your assistant!

    To be honest I don’t cook a lot, but you make it look easy and delectable.

  27. Growing up in an Italian household, fresh tomato sauce was a summer staple for me. I love your method with the minced veggies…I bet that added a ton of flavor. Raw tomato sauce in the summer is another favorite of mine.
    But, mostly I felt the need to comment today to tell you how cute your little guy is!! I cannot believe how quickly he has grown & I just love those curls!

  28. I think I must be on the same craving calendar. I just made blueberry muffins this past weekend and woke up thinking about tomato sauce. I am so excited to try your flexible recipe with my batch of ugly, misshapen tomatoes.

  29. Lindie

    when I was younger and had a half acre garden, I loved to can. Made me feel good to have the pantry and freezer full of fresh home grown vegetables! I had enough tomatoes, whole and crushed, sauce and juice for a year when I was finished. Made my own applesauce and marmalade even. Thinking about it now wears me out! I must say my canned green beans and pickles were so good. My daughters used to grocery shop at my house after they moved out!

  30. Great recipe; beautiful pix, and holy yumtown, your babe’ is scrumptioulicious! If I had a spatula thief with that type of hair, I’d bribe him to stay in town with all the delish-coated spatulas in the world! :D

  31. Susan

    Homemade tomato sauce is a great experience when you find those less than perfect toms so cheap. Everyone should do it at least once or twice. Now that I’ve done it a couple of times to find out, it’s like making pumpkin puree. I’m over it.

  32. KJ

    Your sauce looks yummy. I first cooked tomato sauce 38 years ago (it was the very first thing I remember cooking unsupervised.) I have changed my sauce many times since and each and every time it is nearly perfect. Tomato sauce should match the cook’s current tastes.

    My current sauce is tomatoes (canned or fresh), hot Italian turkey sausage, onions, lots of garlic, lots and lots of fresh basil, and a good pour of red wine. Simple and oh so delicious.

  33. Liz

    One of the reasons I love your blog: you love good food. Period. You are not interested in some kind of snobbish ideal about purity. Just good stuff, made from good stuff, in your own kitchen, served to people who appreciate it. Love.

  34. I love sauce made from fresh tomatoes but I take the lazier route, I no longer squish out the seeds, just toss the whole lot into the pot and let it cook down. If you can your own tomatoes you can have that fresh from the garden tomato sauce year round.


  35. I was going to say that the deseeding puts me off making this sauce but I see from reading some of the comments above that a food mill takes the seeds out! Wow I think I must have one. I have to say I am a bit slack and always include tomato seeds into recipes when it says to remove them. I always make mine from scratch and my family will only eat my sauces :)

  36. Pearl

    Any tips for the best way to freeze this? Would glass jars be the best way or would tupperware suffice? And how long would it last? Thanks!

  37. Amy

    Ah!! One year ago today you introduced us to Corn & Tomato Pie. MOST Delicious Corn & Tomato Pie! Your family will want to eat their vegetables pie! My Family’s Favorite,,,,,as in we’ve had it three times in the last two weeks. We thank you. : )

  38. Leslie from Tdot

    Tis the season to tomato for sure! Our family project yesterday was to process and can a bushel of roma tomatoes for future reference. Four hours and 24 and a half litres later and a little grumpy it was done and the finishsed product is a thing of red juicy beauty. Cold November nights, we are ready. Will practice my mirepoix for the next step — Deb’s sauce.

  39. Kate C.

    Perhaps for another experiment: the roasted tomato sauce method. I have a garden and I can my sauce (this year I put up 42 pints). Because I work in such quantities, I had trouble getting my sauce to reduce enough on top of the stove. Also, the blanching step is such a pain! So now I just quarter or eighth my tomatoes in giant bowls, toss them with quartered onions, peeled garlic cloves, kosher salt, and olive oil, and roast them in the oven in half-sheet pans. The even dry heat of the oven quickly evaporates the water, they get a little caramelized too, and then I put them through a food mill to remove seeds and skin. I adjust the flavorings in a big pot (fresh herbs, red pepper, balsamic vinegar–whatever) while I’m sterilizing my jars. Works like a charm. And if you like (or your tomatoes require) the sweetness of carrots, you could throw those on the pan as well.

  40. stephanie

    my mom has always made her own tomato sauce from a recipe passed down through generations, so i gotta say, since i have the butter + onion + tomatoes recipe now under my belt, i don’t need any more, and certainly none that require more work, lol ;)

    i do run it through a food processor because chunks of things in…other things really freaks me out. but i wanted to ask, is that seriously how much sauce you would put on your pasta? i’m the total opposite, the pasta is just there for a little filler and because i feel weird about eating it straight from the pot. the butter sauce recipe actually is only enough for me!

    1. deb

      stephanie — Yeah, I don’t like too much sauce. That’s also a two ounce (dry) portion. I also much much prefer the sauce cooked into the pasta to finish it but the dollop of red was too pretty to resist photographing. Oh, and I’m like the biggest parmesan cheese junkie but lately I don’t like it with tomato sauces… I think it clouds it up. What’s happening to me? I think I’m starting to eat my pasta like an Italian!

  41. Jen

    I didn’t even know you posted this today but I just posted about home made tomato sauce today too. We bought a half bushel of ugly tomatoes for less than $8 and it made about 7 pints of sauce (enough for the two of us for a few months, I think, but we are already talking about buying more ugly tomatoes and really stocking up like it’s 1999 on home made sauce).

  42. perhaps it’s the chill in the air (here anyway) but I bought a crate of gold tomatoes and whipped them into a huge batch of sauce today! Warm fall food. This recipe looks great, I will give it a try!

  43. Dan

    This clinches it, I’m using some carrot the next time we make tomato sauce! I’m not a carrot fan, but your sauce looks so amazing, and so we’ll give it a try. Thanks!

  44. Daisy

    I wanted to let you know how much I love your site, I found it nearly a year ago and we use reicpes all the time… my mom’s entire birthday dinner was composed from your site as well as both my boys’ birthday cakes. My youngest is only a few weeks older than your little boy and I love to compare them each post as they grown chubbier and grow. Good Luck and keep up the good work Deb!

  45. patty

    How is it possible that you have posted EXACTLY what I was looking for, down to the “tastes like Prego”? I have made two batches of “lazy” crockpot tomato sauce and both were bitter (I thought it was the peels but now I know it was the seeds) (I hang my head in shame but point to my three small children and 15 tomato plants as a way of explaining myself). My tomatoes thank you. I thank you. My husband (“just add some sugar, honey”) and children (“I don’t like it”) thank you.

  46. I keep seeing so many lovely, ugly tomatoes at the store, but am not much of a tomato person. (yeah, I know..) Not sure why I’ve never tried making sauce out of them because I do love tomato sauce!

  47. Virginia

    I make a sauce that sounds odd but is delicious, with subtle depths of flavor.
    After removing the seeds from 6 lbs of tomatoes, place in a heavy pot with 4 star anise and a vanilla bean, split. Season with salt, pepper, and sugar to taste. Cook on low heat, using a potato masher to begin releasing the juices. After 2 hours it should be almost a paste, developing deep color and an amazing sweet flavor. At this point you can add a small bunch of basil and some smashed garlic cloves. Cook a little longer to let their flavors infuse. You can use a different aromatic, like thyme or even cumin. If it gets too sweet, add a little vinegar. Finish by drizzling some olive oil or butter, or both. Sometimes I use it as a sauce for meat or vegetables. It’s lovely with chick peas. It usually needs to be thinned out for pasta. Try it. Really.

  48. Helen

    A splash of balsamic vinegar into the nearly-done sauce is FAR better than a squeeze of tomato paste for flavour – combined with plenty of basil, all the better!

  49. You know – for the longest time I thought the title of your blog was “Smitten Kitten” then when I showed your blog to a friend and read the title out loud for her, I realized it was, of course, Smitten Kitchen and then I went on and on about what a clever name that was! I think I was suffering from baby brain at the time (excuses, excuses!).
    Lovely tomato sauce. Tomatoes are pretty pricy here in Berlin still. In Greece they are so good, so sweet that even if you leave the peel and seeds in and cook only with a bit of onion you have an impossibly sweet sauce – almost too sweet (if there can be such a thing?)

  50. Pam P

    you sold on my on the san marino tomato + onion + butter recipe long ago and now I want to try it with tomatoes from the garden (not my garden of course, that is why I have friends who do and then plead with me to take some extras home. Um, ok! Fresh produce and my manicure perfectly in place? hell yeah!) :)

  51. “How to Turn a Bucket of Cheap Tomatoes into a Killer Pot of Tomato Sauce.” — sorry man, tomatoes are not cheap in our country and only rich people are buying them as a token of luxury. hoon.. wish i could make this sauce too.. but i have to rely only the ready made sauces that are available in bottles. nice post though .. thanks :)

  52. Alex

    When I want homemade sauce or just don’t have any store bought around, I do the following and its delicious and easy. In a small pot heat 1-2 Tbsp olive oil on medium heat, add 2 to 3 chopped cloves of garlic (depending on taste), and red pepper flakes (to taste). Let the garlic cook 30 seconds careful not to let it burn. Then add 2 cans of chopped tomatoes as well as salt, black pepper, dried basil, and dried oregano . Let it come to a slow boil and then simmer 5 to 10 mins. I like my sauce smooth so I use an immersion blender and voila a beautiful easy sauce in less than 15 minutes.

  53. Travels4Food

    Our CSA gave us a spilling-over pint of little red grape tomatoes last week. I took a small head of garlic, chopped it fine, simmered it in really good olive oil for about 10 minutes until it was sweet and soft, and then added the grape tomatoes, halved, plus some salt and pepper. I only cooked it until the tomatoes got soft but still held their shape, and I have to say, the sweetness of the garlic + the sweetness of the cooked-down tomatoes made my eyes roll back in my head. And the whole thing took about 20 minutes.

  54. Wonderful post! It takes a lot of love and patience to make a killer tomato sauce, but it looks like you’ve got it! I still have plenty tomatoes coming out of the garden. Yes, they aren’t as pretty as they were a few weeks back, but I think the depth of flavor increases late in the season…I could be imagining that!

  55. outworldarts

    Many of you are overcomplicating this. I’m assuming you are comparing fresh tomatoes to the tasteless (and nutritionless) tomatoes of the supermarket. But these tomatoes ar probably heirloom varieties that taste good. Do some research and know what you are eating. You’ll be so glad you did!

    1. deb

      outworldarts — These were not heirlooms. In general, unless I am itching for a rainbow tomato salad, I avoid heirlooms, my views about them fall a little bit over here.

      Sami — You can prepare your tomatoes as suggested, and only cook them with butter and onion, if you want an even better version of that sauce. The butter and onion sauce is more muted; if you use the mirepoix here, this is a heartier sauce.

      Helen — The tomato paste would be both a thickener and something that adds more of an aged flavor (since it has been cooked down for a long time) to the tomatoes.

  56. Ginger

    I found an alternative method for removing the tomato skins, the microwave. The recipe calls for scoring the tomatoes by cutting an “x” at the bottom. Place them in a deep, microwave-safe glass bowl and cover. Cook on high for five minutes, until skins begin to peel away. Let cool, then peel and discard skins. The recipe called for three and half pounds of plum tomatoes. I tried this, the tomatoes peeled easily they were slightly soft but by no means mushy.

  57. I usually put just a bit of sugar in my sauce, it takes away a bit of the acidity. And, I toss in very fine chopped garlic after the whole thing is cooked, so it has a more intense garlic falour.

  58. Kim in MD

    Looks and sounds delicious! I love fresh tomato sauce!

    Thanks for always including a photo of Jacob…I look forward to finding the link in the recipe! I know I say this every time, but he is the most adorable baby on the planet! That hair…to die for! :-)

  59. Lisa

    Sounds about right! Tomato sauce is so worth making yourself–I can’t handle eating store bought anymore. Two notes: (1) It freezes wonderfully, so make a big batch, freeze it in small containers (I find a piece of saran right on top of the sauce prevents freezer burn), and relish the fact that you can have farm fresh tomato sauce in the dead of winter! (2) Basil. I add it into the sauce (…like, a lot of it) near the end of the cooking process, but you can also make basil cubes and add them in when you reheat it…

  60. Cute baby and he looks like he has a spoon in hand. My 17 month old grandson stands at his play kitchen and says mmmmmm. :) Removing skins and seeds definitely omits the bitter taste from tomatoes. If you are not cooking them, then it doesn’t make a difference.

  61. Elizabeth

    This is the same recipe I have used for years. It is always great. Even in the winter with store bought tomatoes, just throw in 2 tsps. sugar. Sometimes I add red peppers to my onions, celery, carrot, and garlic. Fennel bulbs added in is another idea. Sometimes I go “chunky”, other times, I use my blender stick. Roast chicken in the oven for 20 mins. and throw into the sauce, cover, and cook another 20 min. Same with pork chops. Freezes very well. This recipe is not just a sauce, it is a ‘workhorse’!!! Pasta is just the beginning. Thanks, I love your site!

  62. I started doing my tomatoes in the crock pot. I cut out the stem part and place them in the crock pot on low for about 4 hours. The skins are very easy to peel off afterwards and you can just crush the tomatoes with your hands into the skillet for your sauce. So easy! I can start them while I’m doing some chores and they’re ready when I am.

  63. Sounds delicious! I just got a canner for my birthday and this looks like a great recipe to use up the last of my summer tomato crop and break in my new canner at the same time!

  64. Sandra

    Love your posts and the beautiful photos! Regarding skinning the tomatoes, I found roasting them to be so much quicker than the hot water method. The tomatoes I used were small too and it went pretty quick once they cooled enough to handle.

  65. This is gorgeous smooth tomato sauce and the picture with that dollop of sauce looks just great.
    I have tried with the seeds too and this version without the seeds and juice is much more flavorful , though i never used celery n carrot …

  66. This looks delicious! I generally make sauce with kitchen-ready canned tomatoes, but I am ready to try it with fresh while they are still in season!

    Thanks so much for the recipe!

  67. Pip

    Hi! Looks delicious. Can you tell me what is the difference between a tomato sauce and a marinara sauce? When I’ve had marinara sauce in Italy it’s a seafood sauce, but in the States and Canada it seems to be just a tomato sauce. So what’s the difference, for you, between the two? Thanks – have always been a bit curious about this!

    1. deb

      Pip — I’m no expert but I did a tremendous amount of Googling on the subject before writing this post trying to get to the bottom of it — I was curious too! As best as I can understand, marinara sauces are thinner and cooked less time, sort of a quick tomato sauce that might be tossed over fish. A pomodoro sauce would be cooked longer and is used with pasta or a zillion other dishes that need a more anchored tomato flavor. This would be the latter. Both can be called tomato sauces. Italians out there? I’d love to hear if I got it right.

      Nathalie — Did you read the head notes?

  68. Nice! Using fresh as opposed to canned tomatoes really elevates the flavor and quality of the sauce! Its worth the extra effort any day. What a well-designed, professional quality site you have here! Ive actually been reading it for a while, but I only just commented. Great work! I’d also love to get your feedback on my blog as per your convenience.

  69. Carrots and celery? I can’t even imagine. But of course, to each her own. I haven’t eaten jarred sauce since I moved into my first apartment. Why eat horribly when you can eat delicious?

  70. Ruthie

    Just a little trick so that you can enjoy this in the cold of winter. Gather up your homegrowns or farmer’s market ‘seconds’, toss them into ziplock bags and freeze them. No washing, no peeling! When you are ready to make your sauce, let them defrost a bit and the skins will slip right off without blanching. Easy breezy. I freeze all of my tomatoes that seem to come in like an avalanche in september. No bothering with canning. Oh…and you can throw your excess basil leaves in the baggies as well for this sauce.

  71. Hey Deb……..Long time no chat. Your post today is right in line with my agenda later today……….picking more tomatoes from the garden. I’ve got grape, cherry, beefstake and two heirloom varieties, and they are all calling out for attention. It’s definitely going to be sauce making time in the next couple of days. You are so right about the flexibility factor, since I also add a glug of wine and red pepper flakes in the beginning, and finish with fresh chiffonaded basil before serving. Thanks for the inspiration.

  72. I love the idea of making the tomato sauce from scratch – I make it at least once a week using passata di pomodoro. Would you prefer the tomatoes to be perfectly ripe or slightly overripe? I think that some tomato sauces are too bitter, so perhaps the older tomatoes would produce a sweeter sauce.

  73. My brain is obviously going, because I’m having a hard time deciding what end of the tomato is the bottom. If my tomatoes had produced more than one or two tiny tomatoes, I would be making this sauce tonight! Though I could see if the farmer’s market has any low-er cost tomatoes I could sauce.

    1. deb

      Seanna — I guess “bottom” is relative! But I meant the end opposite the stem, where you’d have a nice smooth expanse of skin to peel from.

  74. My husband and I were just talking about how his Persian mother used to spend hours making homemade tomato sauce and canning it for winter and spring use. I told him that I bet it tastes a billion times better than the shelf-stable canned stuff. Can’t believe I found your recipe…it was fate!! I am making some this weekend. thanks.

  75. You made me smile today…again. We foodies are definitely on the same wavelength, whether we are in the Midwest or in New York. I too did tomato sauce on my blog. Many times we do the same thing. Funny how that works. It must be the seasonal thing. Keep up the yummy works! N

  76. Monica

    I just got probably about 12 lbs of tomatoes from my brother’s garden where they can’t can tomatoes fast enough….I am a lucky sister, indeed. Earlier in the week I bought maybe 5lbs (for $5) and did the whole quarter, cook, and puree method but it was…meh. Not really bitter, just not a great sauce. For this batch, I cut them in 1″ pieces, topped with lots of minced garlic, cut up basil, salt, sugar, and olive oil and roasted them in the oven for a little over an hour. This stuff pureed up like a dream. An absolute dream. It is on the sweeter side of sauces, but a lot thicker then the other stuff I made and just so much flavor. And it was an absolute winner for the little ones I was feeding too.

  77. iAmazonite

    My mother’s spaghetti sauce is very meaty and delicious, but (horrors!) she adds sugar, and a fairly large amount of it. I find that the grated carrot does the same job of taking care of the tomatoes’ acidity, and is healthier to boot. She would most likely be appalled at the idea of a tomato sauce without either meat or clams… but this sounds really delicious. We had such a dry summer around here that tomatoes were rare and prized.

  78. Rhonda

    Now I really wish I had tomatoes. I haven’t bought prepared sauce in so long. I like to make it and it never turns out bad, different each time but always good, sometimes great. Love the butter tomato sauce you posted a while back, even my kid liked it. Your dough boy is too cute too, gosh those legs.

  79. Marie M.C.

    OK. This is about your “little assistant”. He is beyond adorable. I know I had a cutie-pie, but oh my, stop the presses. Now I need some help with my hair. (It’s getting a little thin, shhh.) Jacob — I know you won’t mind if your mother shaves your head — right? Then she could send me all that gorgeous hair and I’ll have a wig made. I promise to send pictures. What do you say? Yes? We could change your name to Samson. Although I’m a little long in the tooth to be called Delilah. Or would we have to call your mother Delilah?

  80. ohhh yum! this looks delicious! i’ve never added carrots and celery to my sauce before but maybe i will next time!!! carrots would definitely add a sweet texture and celery is negative calories, yay!! :)

  81. With the exception of Newman’s Own, I prefer to make my sauce from scratch from now on. I have a great alfredo sauce recipe and this tomato sauce recipe sounds perfect for my “red sauce.” Thank you so much, Deb…you’re making me give my favorite corner Italian bistro less and less business! haha :)

  82. I love seconds. Peaches, tomatoes, apples = jam, ketchup, apple sauce.

    I love a fresh tomato sauce with lots of garlic and red pepper flakes. I usually avoid the long cooking time and deseeding by adding a little tomato paste. It won’t take as long but it definitely depends on the tomatoes that you have.

  83. Ha! Like when I finally set my lips on a concord grape, was BOWLED OVER by the haunting goodness and mysterious familiarity, and finally reaized: tastes just like grape cough syrup! In the the best possible way.

    We’re off in search of uglies this weekend, enough to keep us in sauce all winter.

  84. Love. I made fresh tomato sauce this weekend from some beyond-craggy looking tomatoes I picked up at the farmers’ market. They were beasts. But they made such sweet sweet tomato sauce! I like mine chunky, not pureed :)

  85. This is right up my alley since I am on a crazy tomato binge. It was sparked by accident.I drizzled a bunch of cherry tomatoes with olive oil salt and pepper and put them on my grill thursday afternoon to “roast” and forgot about them. Luckily the gas ran out before they were charred to death. But then for some reason I still did not take them off the grill. Fri morning I left to go out of town for the weekend. I remembered them sometime Sunday and had horrible visions of rotten cherry tomatoes all slimy and moldy all over my grill. But when I opened the grill I had the most perfectly “sundried” tomatoes that were so delicious that I ate all of them by lunch time! BTW 6lbs of tomatoes are simmering on my stove as I type!

  86. Wonderful recipe. This reminds me of my old Italian neighbors when I was living in Montreal. They would buy about 20 crates of tomatoes and spend an entire weekend making tomato sauce. They were fully stocked for the winter. You’ve inspired me to buy those unloved tomatoes and make sauce.

  87. When I was growing up we had Italian neighbours & I do believe that was when I caught the bug for preserving & especially making home made tomato sauce, your right about de-seeding, but over the years I’ve seen lots of additions. Your recipe is a good basic & keeps for ages.

  88. MissV

    I have a soft spot in my heart for the ugly tomatoes at the farmers’ market too! I just bought 12 pounds of them for 8 bucks and made a triple batch of roasted tomato soup….more than enough for two dinners right away and four freezer bags of tomato-y goodness to get us through the dark days of winter.

  89. I buzz my tomatoes and freshly picked herbs (basil, oregano, thyme, marjoram & rosemary) plus a little garlic and shallots in the blender including the skin and seeds. Simmer all day then serve or freeze. (I just can’t bear to toss out any part.) I love how the Cherokee Purple and Black Krim tomatoes yield such a dark sauce.

    I have heavy metal sensitivities so I always cook tomatoes in glass or enamel pans. Tomatoes will react with metal cookware!

    1. deb

      Millie — Tomatoes react with aluminum, I believe. Stainless steel is nonreactive. I’ve heard those Cherokee Purple tomatoes are wonderful.

  90. Jenn

    Deb- Is there a shortcut to squeezing the tomato’s seeds by hand? Would I get the same results, both flavor and texture, If I blend the tomatoes, use a strainer, and then simmer them? Thanks
    Btw, love your website! I have replaced Epicurious with yours! Love your stories and pics, keep it up! :)

    1. deb

      Jenn — Heh. I think of squeezing out the seeds, which only takes a minute or two for the whole batch, as a shortcut to pureeing and straining. But I loathe straining things. I find it takes forever.

  91. Tracy

    Believe it or not I was so busy all day yesterday making tomato sauce (spent today using 18 oz of it for a big pot of spaghetti sauce) that I haven’t had a chance to check my favorite food blogs until now. I’m afraid I’m a purist – got 8 pounds of Roma’s for $.25 a pound and peeled them, chopped them, cooked them for 15-20 minutes, used immersion blender, strained the seeds out then cooked down the pulp for @ 2 hours until reduced by half. Got 4-8oz jars in the freezer and used the rest (@ 18 oz) for homemade spaghetti sauce where I added in onions, celery, peppers, ground beef, mushrooms, garlic, italian seasoning, etc. I now have 4 pints of that sauce in my freezer and we had spaghetti for dinner with leftovers for Saturday dinner (plus a few after school snacks).

  92. Cyn

    THE best tomato sauce is one where the tomatoes are cut in half and then grated (not on tiny holes, but on larger holes of grater). After you have a big bowl of grated tomato, juice and all, heat up (generous amount) olive oil slowly in a very large skillet (big surface area important) with slices of garlic clove. When garlic is golden, not brown) add grated tomato, crank up heat, stir occasionally, add salt. When it is nice and thick (less than half hour–maybe even as quick as 15 minutes) stop cooking.
    Important things about this method:
    1. texture of grated tomato is lovely (not Prego)
    2. no “stewed” taste
    3. efficient “skinning”
    4. clear, clean taste of tomato essence.
    5. much quicker, less energy, less heat in kitchen.
    I am Italian, but this method comes from my Spanish mother-in-law.

  93. Maria CG

    My goodness, your photos are so inviting — I can already taste the delicious tomatoes! But, I must admit, what inspired me to write to you (this is the first time) was looking at your assistant. I remember having a little curly helper just like that. Enjoy! And, thanks for the recipe!

  94. Pip

    Ah! That makes sense – thanks for investigating it. I’d never been able to work out why marinara sauce didn’t include fish, but of course it is sauce to go *with* fish. Thanks again!

  95. sofie

    What I learned in Italy about making sauce: Olive Oil goes in LAST. A bit in the beginning to cook the veg, but really, the bulk of it added in the end does two things- 1. adds a beautiful finsh to the flavor of the sauce and 2. retains the nutritional content of the oil.

    What I learned in SF about making sauce (from my fam): TONS of carrots. Preferably shredded, and then the whole sauce blended in the end. You’ll be surprised at how creamy the carrots will make your sauce and, again, there’s the added benefits of flavor and nutrition.

    Beautiful pics- I need to get to the market.

  96. Jenna

    i had started making fresh tomato sauce this year. was surprised at how easy it is. although I never thought about carrots…i guess this helps with sweetness and thickening because of their starch. I so look forward to trying this when my next batch of csa produce comes in tomorrow. time to stock up!

  97. Sandy W

    Homemade wins every time — canned tomatoes or fresh. I’m sure you could gather plenty of recipes from all of us and make a cookbook just on all the variations. I love tomato sauce!!!! Thanks for posting this Deb!

  98. Leanne

    And here I was trying to figure out how to use up a lovely bunch of tomatoes before I leave on vacation! Thanks for saving me, as much as I love them, I couldn’t have eaten them all by tomorrow (though I would have tried)! And thanks for including other ideas. Armed with your advice, I decided to use what I had on hand- shallots, garlic, red wine and some of those little red peppers that I think are the kind that end up as crushed red pepper(plus a little sugar since no carrot)- delicious!

  99. Jen

    I don’t peel, seed, skin, or puree.
    I slice tomatoes into a bowl with a few cloves of garlic (minced), salt, pepper and olive oil, crush them slightly with my hands, then add to a pan with a nearly-caramelised onion. Cook until slightly thickened, add the pasta and cook for a minute more, add basil and roasted bell pepper. Best pasta sauce, ever.

  100. This sounds totally gorgeous…I’ve always wanted to try totally-from-scratch tomato sauce. I’m finally starting to feel ambitious/inspired enough to try it soon!

  101. Kassia

    I just started reading your blog recently and I’ve already tried two recipes! Your version of ratatouille and vanilla roasted pears were pretty simple and AMAZINGLY delicious. I wondered, though, if you’ve ever seen Giada de Laurentiis’s recipe for an open-faced egg sandwich? It is simplicity itself, so rustic and warming. It would be wonderful with your homemade tomato sauce, I’m sure, but the case in point is I made it this morning with leftover ratatouille, and my oh my. Thank you for sharing that.

  102. Joe

    I lived in Japan for two years and while the grocery store was full of expensive produce, a nice couple with a huge green house and plot of land (in the middle of the city) sold things like mikans and tomatoes for dirt cheap. I made good use of the tomatoes as the Japanese have a difference in opinion of what makes “good” tomato sauce. There isn’t a wrong way to make a basic sauce in my opinion. My tip if the tomatoes aren’t that great tasting, a teaspoon or two of sugar can help bring out some flavor. It’s not too sweet but can help bad tomatoes taste like heaven!

  103. Lovely looking sauce. I love to cook up batches of tommies – pop them in the oven, splash of olive oil, sprinkling of sel de mer and a bulb of garlic on high. Once they’re ready, with wilted and burst skins, swimming in their own juices, I blitz them in my blender and then I pass the mixture through a mesh sieve, then pigeon into small freezer packs and off they go!

  104. Great post, as usual. I’m a fan of caramelizing the tomatoes in the oven first…gives them a really sweet, rich taste. Cut the lot of them in half, toss to coat with a mixture of olive oil, kosher salt, chopped garlic, some thyme (or oregano, or whatever herbs you like), a little pepper and a touch of sugar. Roast, cut side down, in the oven for 45 minutes or so. Right then you can put them on crostini and be pretty darn happy, but if you can remember you were supposed to be making sauce, go ahead and puree everything in a food processor, strain to remove the seeds, then cook for 15 more minutes over low heat, adding about 1/4. cup of tomato paste to intensify the flavor if you like. Eat right then or freeze to have a bit of summer anytime.

  105. Rachel

    I just got 4 lbs of tomatoes in my CSA and am traveling to the opposite coast for a week. After your very timely post, I now have zero tomatoes and a batch of sauce in the freezer! Thanks!

  106. Consider a serrated peeler as a super easy alternative to remove the skin from the tomatoes. OXO and Messermeister both make great versions and they’re under $10. Also great for peaches and eggplant.

  107. Deb, this looks AMAZING (like everything else on your blog)! I’m on a frugal kick and am well on my way to making everything under the sun and this is on the list! Made marinara sauce last week that was so much tastier than anything store bought so I can’t wait to try this out! Keep up the great work. Long-time lurker :)

  108. Omar

    I generally use canned tomatoes but after the timely post and tomato season coming to an end I had to give this a go! Delicious, like the many other dishes I have made from this blog. Fabulous directions and great photos. Many thanks to you Deb.

    Next up, mushrooms strudel and peach shortbread.

  109. My roommate and a friend and I made this last night, and we found it was a LOT of work (took the three of us nearly an hour to prep the tomatoes and vegetables) and really only made about five or six servings of sauce. It ended up feeling like a lot of work for not very much product, so I’m not sure how often we’ll repeat it. We added about a Tbsp. of Italian seasoning (oregano, basil, marjoram, thyme, rosemary), though, and the fragrance as it cooked was absolutely mouthwatering.

    Oh, and is this supposed to be simmered with the lid on or the lid off? I felt like ours didn’t really reduce properly, but that might have been because we left the lid on.

  110. stephanie

    I lived in Italy for seven years, am married to an Italian chef and I have never eaten Marinara sauce on pasta in Italy. I think it’s one of those things Italian immigrants invented. Same goes for creamy sauces like Alfredo. Apparently these came about because the immigrants were so poor they could never afford cream and ham — so they overdid it when they hit the shores of the US or Australia. Getting back to the sauce thing, sugo al pomodoro is your standard tomato sauce — I’ve seen it made from scratch in Sicily with only a few ingredients: tomatoes, olive oil, red onion (for the sweetness) and salt which is reduced for hours and then passed through a sieve, then re-simmered adding a whole bunch of fresh basil. Garlic and onion are NEVER mixed. Garlic is usually reserved for pasta sauces with seafood.

  111. Shaundi

    WOW!!!! I made your sauce today, Deb and it was utterly amazing! I have been harvesting so many tomatoes from my garden this year and needed to do something with them. This is the first time I have ever had from scratch tomato sauce, let alone made it. I tasted it before adding the salt and was amazed at the wonderful, soft and light taste it had. No bitterness, no acidicness (not a word, but I don’t care). Just pure, creamy, happy tomatoeness (also not a word). :) I imagine that this might just be what Italy is like…

  112. j.

    great recipe, as always! i too add a pinch of sugar to my tomato recipes, but even better is a dash of cinnamon … tomatoes and cinnamon go hand in hand.

  113. Robert

    My family insists on filling a pot with tomatoes and just cooking them away for hours until they break down. No peeling, no seeding, no flavoring. They’ll add a pinch of sugar at the end, blend it, and call it sauce.

    When they’re not looking, I add cooked down onions, garlic, and carrots, and season the sauce until it’s palatable. I’ve been doing it for years and no one has caught me yet. They just wonder why one pack of frozen sauce tastes bland and the next one tastes magnificent.

  114. It’s that time of year again for “doing the tomatoes.”

    As the tomatoes in my garden upstate grow, I take the ones I can’t eat in sandwiches and “do them.” Then when September arrives, I go to Moses Farm (yes, Grandma Moses) and pick two bushels to “do” for the rest of the year.

    I usually prefer the round to the Roma, but that’s just me. I take the tomatoes, wash them, remove the stem, quarter them, and remove any white from the inside if it’s there. Then I put them in pots with some olive oil and salt and cook until they are broken down. Maybe 1-1/2 hours. After they cool, I put them through the finest strainer of a food mill to remove the skin and the seeds and return the strained “sauce” to the pot and cook a little bit longer until it thickens slightly. Then I put 1-cup increments into pint-size Ziplock bags and freeze them flat. I only make it into sauce as I need it since I make many different sauces. And I never use onion AND garlic in the same sauce. Nothing ever tastes like Prego.

  115. Went to the farmer’s market today to get the ‘50% off’ tomatoes because I was inspired by this post!! Planning to make sauce tomorrow. Reading all the comments diligently to get all the tips I can, as I’m a novice at this… :-) Don’t know how much volume of sauce I’ll end up with, given the amount of tomatoes I’m starting with, but I’m hoping this freezes well!

  116. LindaInNJ

    Girl…….your non-Italian is showing! Need to cook gravy (aka tomato sauce) with fresh basil, not just garnish with it. This will sweeten up the gravy. The carrot will, too, but the basil with give it a nice aroma and flavor. And you also need to add oregano to the gravy.

    NOTE TO THE PERSON WHO IS ALLERGIC TO CARROT: Use an apple instead. It works great :)

  117. In our family we use these very ripe tomatoes for Caprese. No cooking, except for the pasta!
    Simply squish seeded tomatoes into a non-reactive bowl, add crushed garlic cloves, salt, pepper, generous glugs of your best olive oil, and finely shredded basil.
    Leave covered on the counter for several hours, if desired.
    Cook pasta, drain and immediately combine with fresh sauce.
    Serve with shredded parmesan, ricotta salata or romano cheeses.
    (I like it with all three)

  118. Camizebra

    “And I wasn’t even offended…mostly because he spent the next week claiming he was joking…”. YOU FREAKING CRACK ME UP DEB! This totally nails my kitchen/husband dynamic.

    Thank you for sharing a great recipe and I always appreciate how you “complicate” things, as it shows your passion for ingredients and working them the best way possible.

    PS I don’t post a comment at every recipe I cook of yours (which I should) but they are all completely gorgeous and so easy to work into my weeknight repertoire. Cannot wait to get my mits on your book.
    PPS Gah! Jacob is beyond handsome with that dang face and HAIR.

  119. I love this post! My friend and I were just talking about whether or not we should squeeze the tomato juices out… or leave it when making a tomato sauce. Very helpful and friendly directions. Thank you! Also… love your photography :)

  120. Hey Deb, I’ve got a little trick for you. Maybe someone has suggested it already in one of the previous 193 comments? I can’t tell. But anyway… I used to do that too–the blanch and peel the tomtoes “thing”. But then… then I discovered… a serrated peeler! It peels any tomato, soft or firm, it’s so easy and quick!
    Like this one: And I swear, I am not a shareholder in Oxo stocks :) (Do they have stocks?)

  121. alison

    it isn’t even done yet, and already (based on scientific sampling) this sauce is the best I ever had. bless you for posting something so basic and yet sooo tasty! tonight dinner is just a bowl of this sauce and a little parmesan. indiansummerheaven.

  122. gingerella

    I love your site, photos, etc. And since you’ve inspired me to do other things before, I decided to try the sauce since I had a ton of Brandywine and Cherokee Purples that I couldn’t keep up with. I don’t like a lot of “steps” in prep work, so the boiling, skinning, seeding thing put me off. I tried one batch just pureeing in my blender some carrots, celery and onion, kind of a lot actually, then while that was sauteeing I put a bunch of tomatoes into the blender, seed and skins and all. Pureed that and popped it into the pot (I honestly think my ratio of 1/3 veggies and 2/3 tomatoes so it had texture to it, but was rustic and delish). Added spices, etc. and simmered it for about 3 hours and it was divine. But I wanted to try it “the right way”…

    So I bought a food mill last night and today I started again, only this time I closer to your ratio of veggies with only one carrot, one celery and one small onion, all dived and into the pot. Then I started chopping and cleaning my tomatoes and putting them into the mill. What a PITA that was! It looked like I was making tomato juice, and I couldn’t bear to throw out those luscious Cherokee Purple skins! So after several goes with the food mill, I washed it off and ended up returning it because it’s not my thing at all. Too much work and I like my stuff rustic so I don’t mind some “chunk” in it. So I did the blender method for the rest of the tomatoes, spiced it and cooked it on simmer for about 5 hours and it’s amazing. If you don’t mind a rustic sauce with texture (not huge chunks but some pulp), I recommend this approach.

    I really did try, I just couldn’t deal with the prep part of it. But I’m still happy with the outcome. So thank you for encouraging and motivating me to even try this. Well worth the experience! Mille grazi!

  123. I used to work at an Italian restaurant for a few years, and they always used to make their tomato sauce for the napoletana-based sauces and as a base for pizzas. Theirs was very similar to this in process and ingredients. Crushing the tomatoes is really all that is needed and mixing them with lots of garlic and oil will always make a perfect sauce or base. Thanks for sharing, I’ve forgotten how great fresh tomato sauce can taste.

  124. Hi there!

    This is my first time commenting, but I’ve been a big SK fan since my friend showed it to me in March. I’ve made a bunch of your recipes, and used a few even as inspiration. But I HAVE to thank you for this recipe- you see, I’m currently abroad in Uganda (though I’m a New Yorker!) and let’s just say the food is not what you come here for. Anyway, my homestay’s kitchen consists of a charcoal stove, so cooking is kind of limited. But there are more tomatoes here than even I know what to do with (4lbs cost me $1.50) and I had remembered seeing this sauce right before I left! I was able to make it, and it’s AMAZING. I’ve never made sauce before, but it came out great despite lacking many kitchen tools. I used a bit of tomato paste, added eggplant, put it over spaghetti, and everyone in my host family loved it!! I am so proud!

  125. Elena

    You asked for an Italian opinion, Deb. I’m writing from sunny Rome, Italy.
    “Alla marinara” in Italian means “the sailor’s way”. It sauces that typically include olives, capers, some tomatoes and anchovies + clams or muscles…and that do not entail long cooking time. There is no “one” recipe for Marinara. What people in the States and in the UK call marinara is actually closer to what’s known as “alla pizzaiola”: a thick red tomato sauce with lots of garlic or onion and oregano, which does require some cooking but that is generally not associated to our typical tomato sauce.
    The way you made your tomato sauce is really quite faithful to the way we make it here, I was pleasantly surprised. In the centre/south of Italy though we use San Marzano tomatoes to make this kind of sauce, because they do not break when you peel them (yet they are extremely ripe and full of yummy juices).
    The only imperfection I found was in your presentation. No self-respecting Italian would ever have a plate of pasta whose condiment had not been mixed in, but placed as a dollop on top, like in your photograph. Part of the magic of making pasta is mixing the sauce. I know, however, that you had a photograph to take and a sauce (not the actual pasta) to present. So you are forgiven! :)
    Keep up the good work, I love all your recipes!

  126. Coleman

    I love your site so much that I have to stop reading before I sign up for a weeks’s groceries! I pretty much live off pasta so this is treat I can’t wait to make. If you’re interested, I have a marinara recipe I swear by :)

  127. burcu

    we are just starting to see the “beautiful on the inside” tomatoes in our farmer’s markets here is DC now. I just bought a 4pounds of the tastiest and ugliest tomatoes I ever tasted and can’t wait make my own fresh tomato sauce tonight! thanks for the recipe.

  128. I have 12 1/2 lbs. of Romas I scored for about 50 cents a pound so I finally got to try this! I’m surprised by how much it cooked down, I’m used to using 6 lb. cans of crushed tomatoes when I make marinara sauce but I resisted the urge to tweak this and it is really bright and fresh tasting so I’m glad I didn’t just make it into my usual recipe. Every recipe I’ve tried here has been lovely, thank you for being a source I trust. :) This is a really allergy friendly recipe, by the way. I am debating serving the sauce with rice pasta or making a wheat free batch of focaccia to dip in it.

  129. Anna

    I went for the simpler version, adding only sauteed onions and a glug of red wine. I coarsely chopped my tomatoes (celebrity and purple cherokees–too many to keep up with and some were looking a bit sad). I cooked them for about 30 minutes and then ran the whole thing through my food mill to remove the seeds & skin. I returned the pureed sauce to the pot and simmered until thickened. So simple and delicious!
    I may have been a bit over-ambitious in my tomato plant purchases but recipes like this help me keep up with the abundance of tomatoes and we still get to enjoy every last one. Thank you!

  130. Kate

    Thanks for the best recipe on the internet. I am overwhelmed by those ugly tomato beasts, as I planted organically in superior mushroom composted soil. That and the abundance of rain early season, then mid-season flash drought, have given me huge monsters, with knarls and splits– Young Frankensteins! I made this recipe twice now, both times w/out a food mill, the first time using a food processer instead of a food mill. The seeds and skins made the sauce bitter, but a little vodka spruced that right up ;) The second time, I removed the skins and seeds, and the beaties produced a magnificent sauce. VERY GOOD! Thanks!

  131. Ashley

    I made this sauce for the first time this past weekend, and despite reading the recipe wrong (4 cups of olive oil?!?! Oops…), I was able to skim the oil off as I cooked. The sauce was amazingly flavorful. I am making more today so that I can stash it away in my freezer and enjoy it over the winter. I used sea salt, added a cheap-o red wine and sage sausage, and subtracted the carrots and celery in my last batch. The tomatoes came from my garden – better boy, early girl, brandywine. DEEELICIOUS! This is a recipe you can play with to make your own, and (if you can read!) you’ll end up with a fabulously impressive sauce. Mine was still a bit oily at the finish, but great anyway. I will always use this recipe. Smitten kitchen, indeed. :)

  132. Ginnie

    From a family that loves Prego–this is high praise indeed! Homemade sauce is the best–make it while you can!
    I made a 1/2 batch with 10 lbs. of tomatoes–mostly roma but also used a variety from the garden. I did not seed them but I didn’t notice any bitterness, however, the seeds are annoying. I’m going to do another batch today and seed them. I froze several quarts.
    My variations: I left out the oil and carrot. I added oregano and some black pepper. I also included several green bell peppers and let them stay a little chunky–wonderful. Maybe I try the naked tomato version!

  133. Lisa

    I’m so happy to find this post. I have 27 tomato plants in my backyard and have been working to find ways to preserve what we can’t eat immediately (or don’t want to give away). We just canned about 30 jars of tomatoeos 2 days ago. I’ve got about 3 quart sized jars that didn’t seal that I threw in the fridge. This will be the perfect way to utilize them by transforming them into something beautiful AND delicious.

  134. I made this sauce today (actually, a triple batch of it) and canned it…oh my LAWD was it yummy! Unbelievably yummy! This will most definitely become my go-to sauce from this day forward! Thanks, Deb!

  135. Cookie

    This was a great recipe, I made it last night! Excellent guidelines, thank you! My daughter commented on how sweet it ended up, I think that is from the onions and carrots got a little caramelized while cooking! And the tomatoes were fresh from the garden! Even with canned I’m sure it would be excellent!

  136. I will not do this with heirloom tomatoes again. I roasted tomatoes in the oven, poured the juice off, put through a Squeezo Strainer and poured more juice off. Then I put the rest in a crockpot to boil down. 18 pounds of tomatoes yielded 3 1/2 pints (yes…pints) of tomato sauce. It was like trying to reduce a juiced watermelon. I made soup out of the juice. It took all day & night, was tons of work, and then required about 2 hours of cleanup. Makes the cost of my 3 1/2 pints of sauce about $75.00 each.

  137. Tried out your recipe and instructions this weekend for a big pot of sauce! I’ve had a bounty of tomatoes this year as detailed here . This was a great use of my overload of tomatoes but was definitely more time consuming pealing and removing the seeds than I expected. Once I finished processing the fresh tomatoes, making the sauce certainly was easy enough! One heck of a great pot of sauce. Next time though I may add in some Italian seasonings during cooking. Thanks for sharing the great recipe and instructions!

  138. this was so delicious! i don’t think i will ever be able to make sauce with canned tomatoes again. thanks for sharing the recipe – it was a great way to use up a bumper crop of tomatoes.

  139. Donna

    It doesn’t look like you’ve responded in a while but was wondering if you could givens some pointers. I tried your recipe today. It smells better than it tastes and although I like the taste, it was TOO tomato-ee.. did I maybe no squeeze enough juice? And my sauce was orange. The color doesn’t bother me, but I was hoping for the vibrant red, similarto yours. Thanks!

  140. Melina

    I made this sauce with a batch of sad, and unloved, roma tomatoes.. but my sauce turned out.. orange! The tomatoes were red when I put them in! But.. it was orange. LOL! Still tasted great, though. Even with the addition of a little leftover merlot and some butter. ;) My dinner guests loved it, too!

  141. Brian

    I am having the same problem as Melina! Your sauce looks gorgeous, but mine keeps coming out orange. I start with the ripest organic romas I can find, then I blanch, seed, and simmer, but I can’t achieve that deep red color! Do you have any advice?

    1. deb

      I think that the sauce should be orange. My kitchen tends to cast a blue-ish light so it may look slightly more red in the top photo than it is. The second to last photo in this post might be the most accurate representation.

  142. Holly

    So glad I came across this site! I work in a produce market and lug home literally 10 lbs. of ugly tomatoes each week. I have been using Scott Conant’s sublimely delicious recipe (from Scarpetta) for a basic tomato basil sauce and love it but have also been interested in variations. Scott peels and seeds 20 Roma tomatoes, cooks them in 1/3 cup of olive oil until tender, mashes them and adds fresh basil and Parmesan just before serving. The result is a light, pure tomato flavor that is just excellent, but I have been hoping to find a richer, more dense sauce for pizza, etc. and you provided! I look forward to the delicious home grown tomatoes of summer to experiment more. Thanks to you and all who have posted for understanding that pretty on the outside mean little and the ugly tomatoes that most people overlook can yield magnificent results!

  143. Dawn

    Since I’m on a new kick to see how I can help reduce the amount of processed food my family eats, I wanted to try homemade spaghetti sauce using fresh tomatoes. Yours was the easiest sounding one I found in all my research! Currently in process — with my cute sons as my photographer/videographer — so I can post the process on my own blog and let others know how “smitten” I am with your simple instructions to an unprocessed staple! :-) Thank you!!

  144. Doug

    Someone recommended Putting tomotoes through a simple grater. This automatically does away with the skins ! I found that this seems to work what do the experts say ?

  145. Doug

    Doug Again .. Just to add to my comment about grating tomatoes Raw. This saves me peeling and chopping.. !!! Its a guy thing. Really appreciate any guidance here!

  146. Lisa

    i know this might get lost in the million comments but…i made this last night… and it blew my mind. it was the most delicious and satisfying thing. it’s definitely entering the weekly rotation and makes me wonder why i’ve ever bought sauce in a can. i typically cook everything else fresh but was too lazy to discover how easy this truly is. i had it again this morning on freshly toasted bread and it was even better the second time around. my husband was very impressed.

  147. Karen

    I have 11.5# of tomatoes that are just now cooking as sauce and still have the plum tomatoes to do! I’m so excited that I can freeze this and have great sauce during the year! I’ll let you know how it turned out. It’s work but I’ve enjoyed it!

  148. Barbara

    I just tried this recipe using some garden tomatoes that were very ripe. After cooking the sauce for the recommended 45 minutes, I added a pound of raw shrimp and simmered it uncovered for roughly another thirty minutes. Then I let it sit in the fridge for two days. When I took it out and reheated it in the microwave, it was delicious and fluffy. I served it over whole wheat angel hair spaghetti. This was really delicious. Thank you.

  149. newfood

    Thought I’d mention that I tried this about a year ago and it is now the foundation for anything tomato sauce based that I make.

    When I (often) get compliments for my sauce, I credit you and this recipe … many thanks.

  150. TX Mama

    Any time I’ve made sauce and frozen it in the past, it has separated and gotten watery when defrosting. I’ve always used canned tomatoes but we just got a TON of fresh tomatoes from our CSA farm (they don’t look sad at all but too many for us to eat before they go bad) so I am going to try this reciepe to make a big pot of sauce to freeze. This is my first time making sauce with fresh tomatoes so I was glad to find your recipe. Any tips on freezing it so that it doesn’t separate??? My mother in law told me to add tomato paste to thicken, but is it not necessary in this recipe? Thanks!

  151. Laurie

    Delicious! Tastes like Prego! Hahaha

    Took 4# freshly-picked tomatoes, 1/2 pasters 1/2 salad tomatoes. Followed recipe exactly using finely minced mirepoix and 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes added when mirepoix was half cooked. For spaghetti sauce flavor, added 1 tsp dried basil, 1/2 tsp each dried thyme and marjoram, and 1/2 tsp granulated onion, crushed together with a mortar and pestle before adding.

    Simmered medium-low for about an hour and a half before enough water boiled off to reach that “jar” spaghetti sauce consistency, stirring every 15 minutes for the first hour and every 10 minutes after that (to monitor fornpossible scorching).

    Prego! Thanks for sharing.

  152. Arneta Smith

    I am going to try this it looks very easy. I have seen others and this is by far the simplelist that I have come across. Thanks

  153. Jennifer

    I love this recipe! I have been searching for an easy tomato sauce to freeze and thank goodness I came across this. Last week I was searching for baby food recipes and I found my way to this site-it must be destiny :) Thank you Smitten Kitchen- you made this mother’s day!

  154. So I have been going through your archives, trying new recipes for the last couple weeks and LOVING them. We were especially fond of the homemade poptarts. :) I’m trying this sauce, it is my first time ever making tomato sauce, and it just seems like I’m missing something. I peeled and seeded and did the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic, and I’ve had it simmering for nearly 3 hours, but it doesn’t taste how I expected it to. Instead of a hearty taste that fills my mouth and settles right on the center of my tongue it’s more of a light tang at the back of my tongue, and seems a bit thin. Is this how it is supposed to taste and I just have a palate ruined by sugary store bought tomato sauce? Or did I do something wrong?

  155. anita

    We have dozens of ugly, starting-to-split tomatoes from the heavy rain in New England this summer, so it seemed like a good time to try making this sauce. I didn’t have any celery on hand, but I added 3 diced jalapenos from our bumper crop. As soon as I tasted it, I started on batch number two. I may need a new freezer. Thanks, Deb.

  156. joel jacobson

    i dont peel
    i dont seed
    i dont spice
    i just wash, cut ( usually roma’s) cook down, boil the jars, freeze , and then pice etc when i use them in the winter. maybe not as good as the best, but way better than store bought.
    question–at the bottom of the pot, at the end of the day, there is a wonderfully strong “water”….can i get that same intense flavor just by cooking for a long long slow time—like 8 or 10 hours? or maybe roasting first?

  157. in fact-i have 1 bushel = 2 pecks= about 50# of roma bought yesterday morn at the farmers market -$18–a little more expensive this year due to the midwest drought. i started cutting at 2 pm, was done at 330 and will start putting them up at about 10 tonight…this will last us through the winter–we will add basil, or rosemary or sage or bacon or…as the spirit move us. i puree ( blender) about 1/3 and leave the rest crude.

  158. Rhoni

    Thanks for the recipe. It is delicious! I did add a few pepper flakes, a splash of GOOD balsamic vinegar and a little sugar. I could eat a bowl of it!

  159. Bruce

    Never tried making sauce from scratch – but with a garden full of plum tomatoes I had to try. My mom and grandmother would have been proud. Everyone loved it, simple recipe, very delicious. I cheated too, used the immersion blender – good texture.

  160. I love this sauce. I’ve made it three times this summer using tomatoes from my garden. I just finished a big batch using 16 pounds of tomatoes. I plan to make Manicotti and lasagna with some of the sauce then freeze the rest. I followed the recipe as is the first time and it was perfect. I wanted a quicker way to remove the peels from the tomatoes, so I cut and seeded them, pureed them in my food processor,then put them through the strainer removing all of the skin. It worked great. I also put the seeds and juice in the strainer and pressed all of the juice into the tomato puree.

    I wont ever use another sauce recipe; this one is a keeper.

  161. Thamo

    Fantastic instructions! We’re making this for the first time ever using tomatoes out of our own garden… there were a lot of them. We also added a jalapeno from our garden… fingers crossed it turns out because we have a lot of tomatoes already frozen and a ton more coming :)

  162. Molly

    I was so excited to find this recipe after I scored 8lbs of tomatoes for $6! I’ve never made my own sauce from fresh tomatoes, so I was excited for this little experiment. But unfortunately it didn’t turn out like I hoped. My sauce doesn’t have much flavor. I did the carrots, celery, onion and garlic, added the peeled and seeded tomatoes and let it simmer almost an hour. I finally had to just call it a night because it was getting late and I knew the baby would be up early. I’m wondering if I can pull the sauce out of the fridge and simmer some more to develop flavors or did I mess it up by cooling it down already? What could I add for flavor? I added about a tbsp of tomato paste after 45 minutes but it didn’t do much. Can I salvage it? Any ideas? Clearly I’m not an experienced cook, just starting to play around in the kitchen:)

  163. gail

    Long running post and it sounds wonderful. Have more tomatos then we can eat so will be doing this and canning this weekend.

    Thanks I pinned the receipe to my pinterest account to be sure I had it.

  164. Lisa

    @Molly: I added twice the amount of garlic called for in the recipe plus dried herbs: oregano, basil, rosemary, and parsley. Get fancy with the spices :) At this point, garlic powder would be a better bet than sauteed garlic. Just remember to add the spiced bit by bit between tastings. You can always add more, but you can’t take it out if you over do it.

    And welcome to the wonderful world of playing around in the kitchen :)

  165. Lavon

    @ Molly – it may just be the tomatoes. I used this recipe toward the end of last summer and thought, “Boy that was a lot of work for not a vey memorable sauce.” But something about it must have been memorable bc I decided to give it a try again today and OMG this batch is DIVINE. I could easily eat it straight out of the pot. Only difference between this year and last is the tomatoe crop used.

  166. Jen H

    I used garlic, but not onions, carrots, or celery. I chopped tomatoes beforehand but did not use potato masher. Sauce came out on the chunky side, and also very sweet. I am a HUGE fan of this website, but this is the first time I’ve been disappointed in the results of any of your recipes, especially for the “work to results” ratio. Wonder what I did wrong. I will say that while I blanched and seeded the tomatoes, there still seemed to be a lot of tomato water and seeds left on the cutting board – it must have escaped the toamtoes beforehand could properly seed them. All this tomato water made it into the pan and I had to cook the sauce for a longer time than called for. Maybe this is what resulted in the overly sweet taste?

  167. Sally

    My favorite tomato sauce is a quick-cooking recipe from the LA Times many years ago: soften minced garlic, as much as you want, in olive oil, adding fresh ground pepper and salt, more than you might think at first. Add peeled, seeded and diced tomatoes and some shredded fresh basil and simmer very slowly about 10 minutes. It stays chunky but could be cooked longer to break down the tomatoes. Or, don’t cook it at all after adding the tomatoes and basil. Use it over cold pasta salad.

    It cooks in the time it takes the pasta water to boil. Any leftovers are good combined with white wine and chunks of fish for a version of the Yugoslavian fish chowder called brodet.

    More detailed recipe and quantities if requested. The diced tomatoes can be frozen, raw, to make the same sauce in February, a real win!

  168. Linda T

    Tried it, loved it & am back again to do it again. This time with a mix of tomatoes – still amazing but must be eaten. Quickly.

  169. THANK YOU for a CLEAR, concise & delightful recipe!

    I will be “trying” this out, on SUNDAY
    for a special WINTER SOLSTICE party,
    with some “stem ON” CAL-IF-ORNIA

    I have extreme confidence THAT this will be the BEST
    marinara EVER!!!

    homemade or THE BEST & FRESHEST
    PASTA possible…
    DON’T FORGET “the cheese”
    NO “sawdust”… GRATE YOUR OWN!!!!

  170. Sue

    I like the idea of adding a little celery and carrots. With 4 pounds of tomatoes, though, I would add more garlic. And, of course, none of the tomatoes in my garden are sad or unloved. I will try freezing some, for that long stretch when good fresh tomatoes aren’t available.

  171. tracy

    anyone making this recipe – Please make sure you toss your pasta in the pan with the sauce!

    I’m sorry but you should be arrested for showing the photo with the sauce plonked on the top of the pasta and not mixed before!

    Any Italian would be shocked by this presentation, and I know as I’m married to one

    1. deb

      tracy — Actually, it should be cooked with the sauce if you’re going to pull the authentic Italian card. ;) However, I wanted to show the sauce’s texture separate from the pasta.

  172. Sharyn

    Made this earlier this week and already am making another double batch – had a bushel of tomatoes to use up. Second time I used the food processor to chop the veggies – much better! Question: I didn’t use ANY of the fresh tomato juice either time. I froze the first batch in muffin pans for use later, but do you have any suggestions about what to do with the rest of the yummy juice? I have 5 cups of it!

    Also PS I put this on spaghetti squash – YUMMY.

  173. Eddie

    I love tomato sauce. I have found it is better making you own tomato sauce this way you can control what goes in your sauce. Your food will be a lot taster with fresh homemade sauce.

  174. Deb in Indiana

    My farmers market vendors sell “the salsa box” — same as your “ugly tomatoes” but with other random peppers and veggies thrown in with the squished or split tomatoes. The boxes start out empty first thing in the morning, and as the vendor sells the “good” tomatoes, the rejects start to pile up in the box. The box is marked at $2.00 or so, and when it looks like it is full enough to be a great deal, I swoop on it. As long as I have time the same day to do something with my bargains, I have made the best buy at the market.

    The reject tomatoes may make the best sauce of all, since they are typically ripe to bursting. I like to throw a little butter in the sauce, and may also serve it cooked only 10 minutes or so as a fresh variation on the longer-simmered sauce.

  175. Shay

    You are too cute! Thanks for doing all the research and synthesizing it for us “lazy crockpot cookers,” to quote Patty. I, too, have struggled with the bitter flavor and just adding sugar doesn’t fix that. Ha! Thank you.

  176. Alli Hogan

    Wow! How delicious this sauce is! It took longer than 45 minutes (more like an hour) to cook the sauce. It was still to watery at 45 minutes. Once I added 2-3 TBSPs of tomato paste (the kind I used was “Hunt’s Paste: Basil, Garlic, and Oregano), the sauce thickened after like 10 minutes or so. Boy, was it ever delicious! I didn’t even add any sugar. I just added salt to taste. I plan to make this sauce instead of buying sauce.

  177. JuneLee

    (First time on this great, recommended site, and I promptly bookmarked it.) Question: Why do you not recommend the open flame method for peeling tomatoes? I find it easier and less messy. I spear the tomato on a long-handled utility fork and hold it over the open flame on the gas stove burner, turning to get coverage. It only takes a few seconds (20sec.max.) for each tomato, and the peel slips right off. I find that scoring fruit, waiting for water to boil, dumping in tomatoes, removing, ice water bath, etc. is a lot of trouble. I also use this method for large peppers (but char takes longer than tomatoes). The only possible reason I can come up with is that most people in the world (i.e. outside of California?) cook with electric power.

    1. deb

      JuneLee — I actually haven’t tried it. I do have a gas stove, so I will, but yes, I’d say half of people cook with electric here. Definitely use any method you prefer; it’s the sauce that matters.

  178. Erius

    You know, I’ve tried to make my own fresh tomato sauce based on your tomato + butter recipe for when I’m done with a day’s worth of exams. I honestly peeled tomatoes wrongly. I literally sliced off the skin after washing them. It still worked, really, and it tasted fresh. BUT, really, I am thankful I came across this recipe. Thanks to this I am NEVER going to take 2 hours just to peel tomatoes. No wonder I end up eating lunch around 2pm. Thanks for making my tomato-peeling life easier! (Also, I tried this and I agree with the others–this is indeed AWESOME.)

  179. Michelle

    I just finished making a pot of this sauce with Roma tomatoes from the farmers market. Since I’m dieting, I halved the amounts of olive oil and salt. I made it to freeze and to use instead of canned tomato sauce in other recipes. This stuff is so fabulous, who needs pasta? It is so good, I ate it plain, and licked the bowl clean! Thanks!

  180. Last night I have read your article. I saw lots of tomato recipes in your article. After that i decided to make this dish early morning. I cut some tomatoes and made it very easily. It’s too yummy and delicious.

  181. Donna

    Made 3 quarts of this yesterday and it was great! Even withe operator error with the emersion blender. I took a direct hit,which I am not complaining about one bit. ;)

  182. Claudia

    Maybe it’s not the absolute best tomato sauce – ok, it’s not. But when faced with an overwhelming glut of tomatoes (or just a dearth of time) I throw everything into the blender (onions in 4 pieces, everything), pour it into a pot, and let it cook down while I go on my merry way. Epicures might notice the difference, but it’s not easy for me to taste the difference

  183. Mandy

    I made this to use up CSA bounty. I used small sweet peppers instead of celery in the mirepoix, and a leek instead of the onion.
    Instead of blanching and peeling the tomatoes, I quartered them and brought them to a boil for ten minutes and then ran them through the food mill. Some seeds got into it, but it was so fast. I didn’t use the super fine sieve. Of course all the liquid got in, but I had time to cook it down.
    I made your Everyday Meatballs and cooked them in the sauce at the end. It was awesome. When I tasted the sauce while cooking down and I worried it was a little bitter from the seeds, but the end result was perfect. It created a slick coat on the noodles like a jarred sauce won’t.

  184. Heather

    SO I’m super un-Italian….my first time making homemade sauce. Of course I decide to try it in December when tomatoes are not in an ugly abundance and I paid $9 for 6 BEAUTIFUL lbs of plum tomatoes….I felt bad mashing then up they were so firm and perfect. Since they were firm and not to ripe my sauce came out not so red…more of an orange. The heavy tablespoon of green Mrs. Dash Italian seasoning didn’t help the color….

    My suggestion is a little less onion. I went the Ann Burrel route and puréed the onion, garlic and carrot (I omitted celery, I hate it) and my sauce came out VERY oniony. Thank god I used a sweet one! I also added tomato paste, and wine in the beggining with the oil, let those caramelize before I added my nasty orange puree. The potato masher did not work out for me so after about 5 minutes of trying that I broke out the immersion blender, my superhero, and all was good. Once it was all mixed and blended in there, I let it simmer [spatter] for 40 minutes and I have to say. It is pretty damn tasty. And a HECK of a lot less sodium than restaurant or jarred sauce. I’ve given up on ordering red sauce out anymore just because of the horrible thirst it causes. I also added some chicken broth and balsamic. I pretty much went with every suggestion on here & then some. I recommend going all out if you’re going to spend a half hour peeling and squeezing the innards out of a massive pile of ‘maters…cheers!

  185. Patty R

    Oh my, this is amazing! Perfection exactly the way it is written. I picked 8 pounds of roma tomatoes from my garden this week and this was the very best way to use them. Thank you!!!

  186. Pam Rima

    Do I have to peel the tomatoes? What happens if I don’t? I have a load of tomatoes in my yard (yes be very jealous!) and want to make a quick sauce but no time to peel all these little tomatoes. I do plan on using my immersion blender at the end because kids and their distaste for chunks.

  187. Georgia Tenore

    Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get the nice ripe tomatoes so I settled for the red but dry supermarket variety. I had to cook it much longer. It’s still something special which makes me determined to find a farmer’s market next year and make a lot of this to can or freeze.

  188. Lake

    Delicious! My first time making sauce this season and I was intimidated. But you have never lead me astray with a single recipe in all the few (read: 7 years) and wow is this tasty! I’ve gone through 3 large boxes of Frankenstein tomatoes with even some mold which I’m not ashamed to say I cut off if it was a small amount and use the tomato. Maybe that’s what makes it so great haha! Thanks so much. My go to sauce now, easily!