Every year at just about this time I renew my obsession with tomato sauce. It’s late August, after all, and just about anyone who has ever gardened or knows people who garden is drowning in tomatoes and I am here, with my virtual bucket, eager to help you out. Don’t be too fooled by my so-called benevolence, however, as it’s really a selfish endeavor; I find spaghetti with tomato sauce to be one of the universe’s perfect meals, so I’m hardly kicking and screaming my way to the kitchen the next time the whim for a new one strikes me.
But I always think that the new one will be the one that closes the book on tomato sauce, that it will be done, that I will be able to move on and find new codes to crack in the kitchen knowing that I’ve locked in my tomato sauce nirvana. Unfortunately, these moments of spaghetti calm are increasingly short-lived. This baked tomato sauce made me happy for a few years, before curiosity got the better of me and I fell for Marcella Hazan’s famous tomato sauce with butter and onions. Even then, I couldn’t leave well enough alone, and but seven months later was taking pity on the cheap buckets of “ugly but tasty!” tomatoes at the market, creating a heartier sauce that could be made with any tomato, whether a prom queen or not.
But the reason I’m back here today is because of what happened the day I shared that tomato sauce for you. Before I had even gone to sleep that very night, I had fallen in love with a new “gravy,” at Scarpetta, where we’d gone for dinner to celebrate our anniversary. The post had barely been up for 6 hours when I came to question if I’d been doing it all wrong, all of it, everything — good food will do that to you. In a restaurant that boasts duck and foie gras ravioli, olive oil braised octopus and innumerable four star reviews, it should say something that the spaghetti with tomato and basil is the most famed dish on the menu. It should warn you that it is exquisite, the stuff of daydreams for people like me, who find a knot of spaghetti and just the right amount of tomato sauce pasta’s highest calling. The tomato flavor is so pure, so clear, so tart and sweet and roasted all at once, I was desperate to crack the code and it didn’t take long for Google to unearth for me the secret ingredient:
Nothing. Nothing! Not onions or carrots or celery. No tomato paste, no slow-roasted garlic, no tomato variety so rare, you’ll need a second mortgage to even be allowed to look at it. The recipe for the sauce is pretty much just tomatoes, cooked until saucy. Can you sense how radical this sounded to me, how it blew my mind? The magic comes in the finishing step. While you cook your tomatoes, you steep some basil and garlic in olive oil to infuse it and add this strained, infused oil to your sauce near the end, so it retains the freshest flavor. And that’s it, that’s the seasoning. Well, that and one other tiny unmentionable. Those sneaks in the kitchen found that if they tossed the whole thing together with a small lump of butter, well, people got ecstatic about it, ecstatic enough to write 500 word essays extolling it, not that we know anyone like that. I’ll tell you this: I’ve made it with the butter, I’ve made it without the butter and both versions are excellent. But the butter wins every time, because it adds a velvety richness to the sauce that defies any need for grated… Wait, what? I just realized I am actually sitting here, typing out an explanation of why butter makes a dish better, like it’s news to any of us. Silly me. I think you know what to do from here.
One year ago: Fresh Tomato Sauce
Two years ago: Tomato and Corn Pie and Nectarine Galette
Three years ago: Marinated Eggplant with Capers and Mint
Four years ago: Stuffed Rond de Nice Squash and Double Chocolate Torte
Five years ago: Penne a la Vodka and Belgian Brownies
Naked Tomato Sauce
Inspired by Scarpetta‘s Spaghetti with Tomato and Basil
If you Google for Scarpetta’s spaghetti and tomato sauce, you will find a) that you are one of a zillion people who do the same and b) several different recipes, none that agree with one another. I roughly, very roughly, followed the version on Serious Eats, as they’d hung out in the kitchen with Scott Conant as he showed them how he does it.
The recipe below will make a thin coating for the amount of pasta listed. If you prefer a heavier sauce-to-noodle ratio, you’ll want to adjust the recipe accordingly.
Makes 4 portions, on the small side
3 pound plum tomatoes
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 large clove garlic, thinly sliced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Small handful basil leaves, most left whole, a few slivered for garnish
1/4 cup olive oil
12 ounces (3/4 pound) dried spaghetti
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, or maybe two if nobody is looking
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cut a small X at the bottom of each tomato. Blanch 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. Discard the skins. Keep the pot full of hot water — you can use it to cook your spaghetti in a bit.
Cut each of your tomatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with your fingertips into a small strainer set over a bowl. Ditch the seeds, reserve the juices.
Add tomatoes and salt to a large saucepan (you’ll be adding the pasta to this later, so err on the big side) and turn the heat to medium-high. There are several ways to break the tomatoes down (with your hands, chopping, an immersion blender that I don’t think Italian Grandmothers would approve of but don’t worry, they’re not in the kitchen with you anyway) but I loved Conant’s suggestion of a potato masher, as it gives you the maximum control over how chunky, smooth you want your sauce.
Once the sauce has begun to boil, turn your heat down to medium-low and gently simmer your tomatoes for 35 to 45 minutes, mashing them more if needed. If they begin to look a little dry, add your strained and reserved tomato juices.
While the tomato sauce cooks, combine garlic, a few whole basil leaves, a pinch of red pepper flakes and 1/4 cup olive oil in a small saucepan. Heat them slowly, over the lowest heat so that they take a long time to come to a simmer. Once it does, immediately remove it from the heat and strain the oil into a small dish. You’ll need it shortly.
When the tomato sauce has been simmering for about 25 minutes, bring your tomato-blanching pot of water back to a boil with a healthy helping of salt. Once boiling rapidly, cook your spaghetti until it is al dente, i.e. it could use another minute of cooking time. Reserve a half-cup of pasta cooking water and drain the rest.
Once your sauce is cooked to the consistency you like, stir in the reserved olive oil and adjust seasonings to taste. Add drained spaghetti and half the reserved pasta water to the simmering tomato sauce and cook them together for another minute or two. Add remaining pasta water if needed to loosen the sauce. Stir in the butter, if using, and serve immediately with slivered basil for garnish. We found that sauce this good, this simple and rich, needs no grated cheese.
371 comments on naked tomato sauce
Sounds simple and absolutely divine. Will be making this ASAP!!! Thanks for sharing
This looks perfect! I love the two Tbsp of butter (if no one is looking). Too funny. I could go for a big bowl of this right now!
I can’t wait to try this. I am a firm and devout believer that butter makes (almost) everything better including a perfect bowl of lightly sauced noodles. Thanks for providing a NYC treat for those of us on the west coast!
Scarpetta’s spaghetti and sauce is the best I’ve ever had and I drool thinking about it…I read Scarpetta and my eyes popped out, can’t wait to make this.
There aren’t many better things in the world than a bowl of spaghetti and tomato sauce – I can’t wait to try this version; I think that the less you much around with something simple like a tomato sauce, the better!
Things I have learned this summer:
1. If I am to mash a tomato with a potato masher, I need to wear an apron.
2. If I am going to use said mashed tomatoes from my CSA, I need to remove the melon first before transporting to prevent bruising.
Ah well, live and learn. I’ve got two more pounds of the summer beauts coming in tomorrow’s box, so this will certainly be there beloved destiny.
I am actually one who daydreams about eggplant; happy to know I’m not the only one who dreams of nightshades.
Mmmmm…I have some early girl tomatoes I just got in my Veg box this week. I want to try them with this recipe. Sounds divine.
I’ve been craving plain tomato sauce on noodles for a few days now (pregnancy craving, I think…) and am planning on making homemade pasta tonight, this might need to accompany it.
I’ve made your sauce with butter and onions (divine!) but this sounds like it could top it. I’ll definitely have to try it.
making tomato sauce usually intimidates moi! but im going to give it a try!! thanks xxo
Looks devine. But you should really try making your own pasta. Would be a complement to that sauce I think, and worlds better than dried stuff.
Chuck — I have made homemade pasta a bunch of times and love it. It’s also a fun project, something everyone should try. But I was surprised to hear another famed NYC Italian chef extol the virtues of dried pasta recently. I think she has a point, especially if you’re able to get really great imported stuff.
When I have extra eggs from the chickens, I make a few batches of pasta to have my own dried fettuccine on hand. I do sometimes buy a wonderful dried Italian pasta, but I like to use as many homemade ingredients as possible.
Darn it, Deb! I threw a party last week and swore I’d live off the leftovers only until they were gone – no more involved cooking or spending money on food for at least a week. But upon seeing this, my brain immediately went “Oh, let’s find a farmer’s market that’s open Wednesday, buy some tomatoes and basil and make this tonight!”
…Yeah, spaghetti with tomato sauce is my favorite too.
i love the simplicity. thank you.
I was watching the Techniques episode of No Reservations the other night and the chef from Scarpetta made this sauce!
This time of year, I’m all about the tomato sauce (it being canning season and all). I also freeze specialty sauces, like Marcella’s. I think this will make the list, too. I know I’ll be grateful it did come January, when only a bowl of steaming pasta and tomato sauce will do.
I love the Title! Such a simple and delightful sauce.
I’ve been scrolling past this recipe for years, but always ended up making salsa with my precious garden tomatoes. What a mistake. I made this tonight using bucatini and adding browned then sliced mild Italian sausages. I was worried the sausage would be too overpowering for the sauce, but it worked together surprisingly well. Yum. I have about 20 more Romas that I’m still hoping will ripen before first frost and if they do I will make this again!
Might be a silly question, but would this freeze well? I’ve been thinking of making some sauce now to have during the out of season tomato months. Would I just add the olive oil and then freeze, adding the pasta and water when I actually use it?
I JUST spent part of the hurricane weekend making the fresh tomato sauce you mentioned, and I thought it was good but bot transcendent. I want to find a fresh tomato sauce recipe to make vast quantities of and freeze, so that I can give up my expensive addiction to Rao’s jarred marinara. I hope this is it!
Oh, and best tip I’ve read all summer: roma and plum tomatoes peel like a dream if you freeze them first, then thaw. Cut off the tops and squeeze them right out of their skins. (Doesn’t work so well with super juicy heirlooms – they tend to just slump in a sad heap, but romas and plums, perfect.)
Looks great! Do you think this sauce would freeze well? It would be nice to make a big batch ahead of time to have on hand for a quick meal. Being a college student again is lending itself more to quick/last minute meals, but I don’t want to sacrifice flavor.
Wow. This is so simple and gorgeous. Can’t wait to try it! As a newbie vegan, I also want to thank you for including so many veg-friendly recipes. I love your blog for many reasons, but the fact that I can actually use most of the formulas without many tweaks is a huge bonus. :) Cheers!
…No cheese? That’s a very tall promise. Not that I doubt you of course, but the thought of cheeseless spaghetti this good blows my mind. Next Tuesday, right after I visit the farmer’s market, I will be making this.
beautiful and simple, just as I liked my sauces. Thank you!
Sounds like the perfect thing to do with all these delicious summer tomatoes!
b-b-b-b-but pasta without cheese is a sad pasta though!!!
Thank you for answering my “what should I make for dinner tonight” question again! This sounds simply wonderful…
Okay, so no onion? No garlic from the beginning? No red wine? Just tomatoes.. In the end it does make sense since we are trying to create TOMATO sauce. I’m a student, have to deal with a budget. But just spaghetti and tomatoes is even cheap for me! Love it, will be tested in my kitchen soon.
I have so many Rose Brandywine tomatoes, do you think they will work in this? My San Marzano tomato plant did not perform well this year…
I love how simple it is, but that’s how Italian food should be. I’ll definitely be giving this one a try!
Sounds just right!
I love how simple this is! So many times, sauce ingredient lists are as long as my arm and it’s still not good. My grandma gave me the family recipe, and I’m always loyal to it, but I do like trying new ones out. Hers doesn’t have fresh tomatoes (horror!) and when my crop is filling baskets on the counter, I need a recipe that will use them up!
this just made me SO hungry. good thing the farmer’s market is tomorrow. :)
This looks like it was MADE for my 3 year old son–the biggest fan of “may-ate-oes” on the planet. He would especially love it if the “naked” part of the recipe meant that he didn’t have to wear clothes to the dinner table. (Anybody else have a tiny nudist on their hands?!)
I discovered the same big surprise in the Silver Spoon cookbook, their simple tomato sauce is simply, tomatoes, with a dash of sugar, salt, garlic, olive oil and basil thrown in at the end. I still can’t believe my favorite tomato sauce is just tomatoes.
I will look at your other linked recipes though!
Deb, I thought of you this weekend, and am glad to see that you seem to have come through Irene unscathed.
I cannot wait to try this. Spaghetti and tomato sauce…my ideal meal.
Ever since I saw this dish on Serious Eats, I’ve been wanting to try it. Thanks for the fun post, and making food easy and delicious!
I make this type of sauce all the time, including coincidentally, just last night. I make mine with olive oil, chopped tomatoes (the skins and seeds don’t bother me), garlic slices, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and a bit of butter and it is incredible. We never have leftovers when I make this sauce!
This looks delicious!! It is easy enough for me to try. Thank you!!
I agree that there’s nothing better than pasta tossed with tomato sauce. Can’t wait to try your version with butter.
This sounds so simple, but I would have never thought of it. I’ll try this soon, it fits nicely into my student budget. Can’t wait. Thanks for sharing.
Oh! I just finished canning jar after jar of homemade sauce, and I know that I’m still going to try this one! I can’t wait!
Ditto to the questions about freezing! I’m looking for a good sauce recipe to can and this one sounds delicious!
So, if I made a whole bunch of this, what’s the best way to save it? Can I freeze it? Should I can it? (And if so, can it be done in just a hot water bath, or is a pressure cooker required?)
Freezing sauce — I have never freezed sauce before but also never heard that you could not freeze sauce, so don’t see why it would be a problem.
It will be hard for me not to sneak a chilli in but I’m so keen to try it as it looks great!
I love the simplicity of the ingredients list! And I agree with you that when it comes to pasta, it’s really hard to improve upon some well-prepared spaghetti and tomato sauce.
I have added a tablespoon of fine grade olive oil to my sauce, but never butter. And this coming from a tried and true Southerner, and we are known down here for adding butter to EVERYTHING. So now I will be adding butter to my tomato sauce. Thanks. I don’t think my hips can take it, but butter makes everything better or so the saying goes. I am all in on this one. I am also going to try infusing the oil and adding it at the last minute. You always make me drool in anticipation!
@Liz, I’m trying to can this too! I think I may just have to add some lemon juice (we’ll see what that does to the flavor…) so that I can use it with a water bath since I don’t have a pressure canner.
My power is BACK ON – I can now cook – well it’s not like I COULDN’T cook, it was just that I couldn’t see :)! As well as my food in the fridge going bad do quickly even packed in ice and then packed in a cooler and ice! GRRR! But I’m back and ready to head on into my kitchy once again! CIVILIZATION HERE I COME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
@Liz, I’m chicken little when it comes to canning things that haven’t been tested for the proper acidity, but, I’m just writing to say that I freeze a lot of sauce – enough for the entire fall, winter and spring. Tomato sauce freezes and thaws beautifully. Just cook it per directions and allow to cool. Pour into freezer-safe containers, leaving about a inch of headroom for expansion during the freezing process, and you’re good to go.
SoupAddict — Thank you! I was hoping someone would pipe up with more knowledge than me about freezing. Everything I put in my freezer smells icky by a month later, so I don’t use it much.
Freezing this recipe was one of the first things that popped into my head too! Everything I’ve read suggests freezing should work great, but as other readers have suggested, canning is far more sensitive and I would be hesitant to use a recipe that hasn’t been tested with canning. Karen, any idea how long you think the sauce might keep in the freezer?
Gorgeous and simple, love it!
I must admit, I was quite skeptical for oh- about the first 1/2 of your post. But by the end, I was sold. I’m printing now and making it tomorrow night (with the butter :)).
…a very well written post.
For freezing, you can just pour whatever amount you want (let’s say 2 cups for two people, as an example) into a freezer bag, once the sauce is cool, and you are good to go. It will keep probably for about 3 months, although I’m terrible at making it last–once I’ve made a yummy sauce like this one, we want it every night, so my winter food supply quickly goes out the window. I can hardly wait to try this one!
I second SoupAddict’s comment about freezing tomato sauce – we do this all the time, and it always tastes great! (even the containers toward the back that I was sure would be sketchy :)
Ever since you posted the butter and onion tomato sauce I’ve been making it at least once a month, if not more. We just had it last night and the leftovers are going on pizza tomorrow. But this recipe intrigues me, looks like we’ll be having more pasta and red sauce pretty soon!
My dear husband saw the chef make this same sauce on some cooking show, so he made it, too. It is wonderful. We didn’t use butter, just the oil called for and I thought it tasted buttery enough from all the oil..almost on the edge of too buttery. I wasn’t crazy about Hazen’s sauce, it was too buttery flavored for me. I’d be tempted to scale back the oil in this recipe or do away with the butter in Hazan’s and offer a drizzle of heavy cream at the table. But that’s just me.
This was my worst year for growing tomatoes. High temps, high humidity for a very long time. No pollenation, no tomatoes. Anyway, I will try to get some good, homegrown tomatoes somewhere around here and give this a try. Spaghetti and tomato sauce is the favorite food of love at this house. Yes, we love spaghetti in the Midwest! BTW, butter never needs explaining……never. N
Crushed red pepper flakes are for sure the secret ingredient to a delicious marinara sauce. And thank you for not making my cry by adding sugar.
THANK YOU. I ate that spaghetti last summer while on vacation (I’m from Montana). While waiting for our table THREE different guests and the bartender suggested it. It made me so passionate that ,I too, offered my opinion to complete strangers! I am so glad to have this recipe. I can’t wait to try it for my husband. Cheers to you!!
I’d love to be able to try this dish in dish restaurant but as a consolation, I’m going to have to make this sauce. Like you, pasta with tomato sauce is one of my favourite dishes of all – so simple but so good.
I am so happy you selected this topic, I love tomato sauce and I just wanted a recipe like this. Thank u.
Made your Tomato & Corn pie (again) two days ago. Soooo good. http://flic.kr/p/ahwR2y
The one thing about this recipe is that you make peeling the tomatoes sound easy and scooping out the seeds. It is things like this that you have to have agile fingers and not waste the tomato and the skin doesn’t always come off easily. It is a delicate operation. But this sauce sounds really good!!!!!!
Great one, I was looking for this EXACT thing when I got onto your site today. I’m making some turkey meatballs tonight for the BF and I…. healthy for me, meat for him :). This sauce will be perfect with them. Thank you!!
I can’t wait to try this out! It looks simple and delicious!
I’ve just discovered your blog and can’t wait to peruse your other posts!
This is great. I’m learning how to cook, rather slowly, so having a tomato sauce recipe that you love is a great thing to have :)
One can never have too many recipes for tomato sauce!
Pasta in tomato sauce is my most favorite comfort food. I have San Marzano tomatoes in my garden this year and can’t wait to try this recipe using them. So full of sweet pulp and little water, they are sure to make a delicious sauce.
Hi Deb! Perfect timing on this post — was already planning on making sauce on Friday for a simple dinner. One quick question I don’t think anyone has asked yet — is it possible to sub canned tomatoes for the fresh ones? I prefer to use fresh, but I’ve been having some spotty luck lately getting ones that aren’t too watery and bland. Thanks so much! Love you and your site! You always make me laugh/salivate at the same time.
I’m wondering the same thing!
You can, absolutely. You might find they need a little more adjusting than fresh — they’re less sweet and nuanced. The reader-favorite sauce on this site from canned tomatoes is from Marcella Hazan, Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onions.
I think I’ll can some of this. I did regular spaghetti sauce last night in the pressure canner. It was a little conservative in the timing due to the onions and garlic, but I think I’ll keep the timing for this to be on the safe side. I did quarts at 10 psi for 70 minutes. I’d think that adding lemon juice to make it safe for water bath canning would alter the taste of this particular sauce too much.
my husband hates onion, so i will definitely have to give this sauce a try! good thing the farmer’s market is this afternoon. like i need an excuse to buy even more tomatoes.
I’m one of those drowning in tomatoes. I planned to make pasta with fresh sauce tonight, now I plan to add that infused oil. Can’t wait. Thank you.
I was so shocked to see the top picture with a background other than your countertop! I like it!
life and kitchen — Ha! Can you tell I am getting SO SICK of my counter, to the point that I’ll resort to (shudder) food styling? :)
Laura — Actually, at the restaurant, I’m pretty sure they use canned or at least some fresh and mostly canned. They recommend an imported San Marzano; I recommend using any canned tomatoes that you like.
This is brilliant, BRILLIANT! When I read recipes like this, I always think: why couldn’t I think of that? I mean, infusing the oil with garlic and basil to keep it fresh? So simple, but so brilliant! Thank you!
“The recipe for the sauce is pretty much just tomatoes, cooked until saucy.”–
That’s my style! No sauces, pastes, fancy seasonings..just a few things that compliment the tomatoes and letting them stand on their own. YUM!
This sounds perfect, I don’t have a garden, but will venture to the grocery for this dinner!
Thank you for posting this today! I’ve never made a marinara sauce from fresh tomatoes before, only canned. I feel a little ashamed of that, but better late than never, right? I’m going to the farmers’ market tomorrow, and I’m going to try this recipe AND last year’s. Thank you thank you!
I can’t wait to try this. Definitely will include the butter.
YUM! I plan to try this real soon!
I’m so glad I took your word for it when you said this sauce needs no cheese. It was absolutely perfect without it–very smooth and rich. It’s definitely the lack of extras that makes it special.
This has now become one of those Things I Must Make Immediately. I love simple foods, done really really well. Especially when they’re pasta. Can’t wait to try this- thanks!
Isn’t this the same as the last “variation” on your post from last year?
“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.”
Ella — Indeed! I came home from the restaurant overwhelmed by the deliciousness and added that footnote a couple days later. As you can see, it’s a game changer, a totally different recipe. Hence, the new post.
Always looking for another ‘not too many ingredients’ tomato sauce! Thanks! I love the Marcella Hazan version you posted a while back, this is up next!
The simplicity of this is just brilliant. Simplicity almost always wins out, doesn’t it? That secret last step with the infused olive oil is wonderful.
Well I could just eat my screen right now. Slurp it, actually. Spaghetti and sauce is so good for slurping.
My usual tomato sauce starts with olive oil and garlic (which I remove), then is just tomatoes and basil, cooked for however long it needs to — either not at all for chunky fresh sauce or for 30 minutes for smoother. This is very similar, but the oil with garlic and basil flavor is added at the end. Is there something wrong with adding the oil first? Does it break down or change flavor? Sounds like a Cook’s Illustrated blind tasting idea!
Mmmm, sometimes a splash of half and half in homemade tomato sauce adds a nice velvety touch. I think I like the butter idea better!
This sounds simple and absolutely perfect for a crisp fall day. I’m definitely going to have to make this when it starts cooling down some down here!
Mine starts like Kevins, oil, garlic, onion first,basil after the onions have turned translucent, then tomatoes added, salted, peppered and cooked down. I cook a double batch for the freezer and have summer tomatoes all winter.
You’re so lucky to have an ample supply of homegrown tomatoes. Our harvest this year has so far topped out at a lousy 4 tomatoes. Grr. 3 bushes in our part of town (LA) are usually much more productive! Anyway, glad to see you (and/or your benevolent friends) have had more luck this year. The sauce sounds delicious!
How much is too much? I had pasta (cappellini is my go-to almost-obsessive pasta of choice) with plain tomato sauce (including butter!) the past two nights for dinner. Now that I read your post I’m thinking three nights in a row is not too much.
After reading that the restaurant uses some or all tinned tomatoes, I may not even bother to worry further, but would it be sacrilege to use those less-than-summer-tasty “vine tomatoes” from the grocery store in the dead of winter? Perhaps in combination with good quality tinned ones? I live in two countries, and it isn’t possible to transport summer sauce to winter quarters…
Nancy — I’d just use canned ones. In general, I think fresh field-grown tomatoes are better than canned, and canned are better than off-season grocery store tomatoes.
Love a good simple healthy recipe for the end of summer. Here goes August!
Spaghetti in tomato sauce is comfort, pleasure and simplicity in a bowl. Your sause sounds simple, looks elegant and I will definitely be trying it out. thank you for the wonderful recipe
this is a revelation. my mind is blown. tomato sauce is just the greatest thing, and i cannot wait to try this out.
That’s all there is to it.
I. Want. This. RIGHT NOW.
Wonderful and simple, a great encore for the last of the summer’s tomatoes.
I need a delicious pie to impress my fiance’s parents, ever thought about posting a delectable lemon meringue pie? This would be the time!
I’ve just frozen 15 bags of the onion, butter tomato sauce you posted from last year :) And I’m already itching to try out this one. Hopefully my local Farmer’s Market can supply another crate of tomatoey goodness this weekend and I can try this one out. Thanks so much Deb! My family love your recipes – My son was weaned on half of them and is the least picky eater I’ve seen yet!
We’re just getting our 1st tomatos here in Sonoma County, CA. I kid you not. So, there’s no such thing as too many. Every one is treasured. Only way is to plant too much, assuming you grow your own.
And this year, it’s worse than usual ‘cuse it’s been a very cool summer. Hasn’t broken 90 degrees & that’s w/ no humidity.
Perfection. Simplicity wins every time. Brava!
$24 dollars for spaghetti with tomato sauce ?? That’s nuts!
oh my goodness, a shared love for a simple spaghetti & tomato sauce. Yay!, Shall try this tonight.
hello fall! can’t wait to make this.
I found the sauce to be very liquidy and I never did add the pasta water. The flavor was very mild, so be sure to use very tasty tomatoes.
I don’t know what I would do without a regular plate of pasta with tomato ragu! Only last night I was walking with my boy that I thought “oh I really feel like a plate of pasta tonight!”. I had it two nights before… but you see my point :)
In Italy, “sugo di pomodoro fresco e basilico” is a summer-time staple. When good, locally grown tomatoes are available, it is a delicious sauce. We made it just the other night. Once the tomatoes have cooked a bit, we prefer to pass them through a food mill, eliminating the seeds and skin that way and producing a smooth sauce. We add a touch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil to the sauce, and add the basil at the end. And yes, as others have said it can be frozen. We freeze it in glass containers, just be sure it is completely cool before putting it in the freezer.
I thought your baked tomato sauce was super tasty, so now I feel compelled to try this recipe and the butter-and-onion one, just to compare. I love how simple this recipe is, though. That’s the beauty of real Italian food.
Made it tonight. Butter may be the ‘secret’ ingredient, but it’s so not needed. My tomato harvest has been over for a couple months now, so I bought plum tomatoes at the produce stand. They pretty much are the same as the crappy winter tomatoes you find in the grocery store, but as long as you cook or roast them you can’t tell.
I added crushed red pepper to the tomatoes as they cooked. Had basil olive oil, so I didn’t infuse any. I added fresh minced garlic to the oil and let it sit at room temp for a couple hours.
Skipped the butter and added freshly grated Parmesan. Absolutely delicious!!! Thank you!!!
I love simple tomato sauce recipes! I use an immersion blender and don’t bother removing the skins. You would not be able to tell the difference…
Wow, made this tonight and it was incredible. Didn’t use fresh tomatoes since I still had some excess sauce from my canning a few weeks ago. Was devine.
I’ve had this recipe written down for at least a year after watching Conant make this on a rerun of No Reservations. It looks so pure and perfect. I will make this some day I SWEAR IT.
I dream of Scarpetta’s spaghetti. Looking forward to making this.
Made it tonight. Wonderful. I used a combo of my garden tomatoes and farmer’s market tomatoes but this could definitely be done year-round with good canned tomatoes.
Perfect fresh comfort food. I couldn’t stop smelling the infused oil while my tomatoes cooked.
I just made it. This recipe is delicious. I can report that you don’t need to seed the tomatoes, but you DO need to peel them. (sad for People Against Blanching, like me.)
Oh good! I have 5 gallons of tomatoes from my garden…do you think I can use non-plum tomatoes?
This sauce is fabulous! Made it tonight with some tomatoes I needed to use before leaving for the weekend. I plan to freeze it to use next week – as long as I don’t eat it all with a few pieces of bread first.
@Anne, and all, re: freezing – federal safety guidelines state that frozen foods last indefinitely (i.e., are safe). So, the primary issue is quality, not safety, as some foods hold up better under long-term storage than others (e.g., beef holds better than chicken). In terms of frozen tomato sauce, which is very stable, long-term quality depends largely on your freezer. Some freezers trap odors like a vault (or produce their own, yay), which would seep into many kinds of packaging, including plastic bags. But, if your freezer is odor-free (or you use non-porous containers, like glass), tomato sauce will last a long time. The other week, I found a container of sauce I cooked and froze last September, and it was still delicious. I’m a big fan of freezing, and thankful to have the room to do it!
the tomatoes are coming in at an amazing rate here on the farm. this recipe is right on time, and is what we will have for lunch tomorrow.
P.S. my husband adds a stick of butter to his simple chili recipe..it wins the spoon vote every chili competition he has been in..other, more exotic ingredient chili will win the judges vote, but his pot is always scraped clean at the end of the night..
@Kelly – I made it with assorted (non-plum) regular tomatoes from the garden, and it was great.
The episode of No Reservations where Conant makes the sauce can be viewed here! It starts at the end (13:53) of the first link and continues into the second. It’s pretty much the same as the above recipe, but I feel like it stuck in my mind better after seeing the visuals. :-)
i don’t have a scale but have lots of tomatoes. anyone want to guess what 3lbs looks like?? even a ballpark will help me
Guess we’ll be having pasta again tomorrow as I have 8 lbs of homegrown tomatoes in the kitchen and this sounds just awesome. Can’t wait to try it.
I hadn’t seen your post before I got home tonight to find The Hubby had made Hazan’s tomato/butter/onion sauce from about 6 pounds of our tomatoes. On my way to show him this!
no wine?! I have a friend who disallows jarred sauces in his vicinity and abhors the idea of sauces made without wine. He’s Italian, so I took his word for it (although, jarred sauces are too great a shortcut to not have in the kitchen for those days you just need something to eat and can’t spare a minute in the day.) But this… I love the idea of fresh, clean flavors and this seems to be a winner. Not to mention, the idea of butter is incredibly intriguing. Thank you for yet another fantastic post leaving me more than eager to get into the kitchen!
I come from an italian family, was raised on this type of sauce and whenever I see a recipe like this I smile+ know the cook/restaurant gets it. a good, authentic sauce is just this simple! grandmother, aunt, mom and now my husbands mom = all the same method (similar to above except the oil/garlic/pepperflakes simmering separately) my aunt uses a no fry method for health reasons (and no butter only oliveoil) and mom simmers lightly the garlic/olive oil then adds the tomatoes, basil towards the end+the butter – taste for both is amazing. grandmother used to start with lard (oh goodness,do people still use that?) they can and freeze this too + still delicious. Thank you for sharing this version. love this blog.
Scarpetta has been number one on my list for a long time!I have heard that the spahetti and meatballs here at the Los Angeles location is absolutely stunning. Every. Single. Person. Says it’s the best thing on the menu. I’m desperate to go, but now I can hold off a tiny bit longer by making this. Thanks :)
Can I skip the peeling and seed-scooping if I use an old fashioned food mill?
Hi Ellen — Absolutely.
In reading today’s post, I also read the earlier recipes for tomato sauces you linked. I’d love to try the Marcella Hazan one. My neighbor offered me as many home-grown fresh tomatoes as I can carry, and I assume I can use fresh instead of canned? The thing is, much as I hate to admit it and hate the fact that it’s true, I don’t like fresh tomatoes (I know–gasp!!), and I don’t want that “fresh tomato sauce” taste. Is there something I should do to the fresh tomatoes to make them more cooked tasting? Just cook longer than the recipe(which uses canned tomatoes) specifies? Puree them? What? Thanks!
Ha! I can’t believe it! So I am the cook in the “couple” -and well, I’m pretty darn good! I could go into detail but..let me say this… my partner makes “one thing” and that’s about it. And well, it’s ..this recipe!! The butter is his secret..it’s always so simple and always amazing sauce…. He say that he found a recipe a long time ago (Nick M..?? something something) … and it has always worked… anyway, reminds me of this. I can cook dinner 364 days of the year..and he can cook one.. but it is always amazing when he does. I use to doubt the secret of what one tablespoon of butter does to sauce… but you truly have to try it to know :) Thank you for sharing, cheers!!
Except for the immersion blender (which would ruin the colour of the tomatoes by oxidising them and thus changing their hue more towards orange), I am so thrilled to find a like-minded tomato sauce (sugo) lover! And I too use a potato masher and am all for a bit of butter at the end. Great stomachs think alike!!!
this is a beautiful sounding sauce and when it is summer here – january till march – i’ll make it. have you ever tried processing fresh ly skinned tomatoes with blanced almonds, garlic, olive oil, basil and salt and pepper and stirring it through just cooked pasta? pretty fab! xx
I usually make a similar tomato sauce, I just use much more garlic (5 or 6 garlic cloves) . And when I’m in a hurry I use canned tomatoes :-)
I cannot wait to try this! A good tomato sauce is all a girl needs! Definitely hittin up the market this weekend .
Humbly, I submit a better recipe which I learned from my mother-in-law. And it is easier. Three important things:
1.Instead of peeling fresh tomatoes, cut in half and grate on a standard grater over a large bowl.
2. Meanwhile, heat some olive oil (to cover bottom of pan with a decent slick) in a very wide saucepan on very low heat, add sliced garlic and cook slowly so garlic poaches and just turns golden, never brown. The wide saucepan is crucial as it allows a better carmelisation of the tomato sugars and you don´t get that “boiled” tomato taste–the water cooks out faster. Add grated tomatoes and juices to oil and garlic and simmer so you have some moderate bubbling activity.
When the sauce is not watery (about 20-30 min), add sea salt to taste and whatever fresh herb you like, chopped superfine. Turn off heat and let cool if not using immediately.
This is basically my Sicilian great-grandmother’s recipe. I can remember my grandmother making it in the middle of winter using tomatoes she canned herself. The only exception to the rule was she NEVER had fresh basil in the winter so she added a bit of dried. Absolutely delicious!!
I’ve been obsessed with trying this sauce since I first saw Scott Conant make it on a F. Network show. Thank you for making it!
Ok, so I saw this post yesterday and went home and made it. Last nights dinner was delicious, thanks!!!
I didnt have Roma tomatoes, I only had some organic Ontario field tomatoes but I feel the result was the same. I did use the potato masher, which worked wonderfully. I was shocked at how much flavour the infused oil gives without making the sauce heavy or greasy. This is the PERFECT tomato sauce recipe. Thanks for sharing it!
Brilliant, my dear! Pure beats everything else. My love of cooking began in the late 60’s, and my first passion was “spaghetti sauce”–and the more “complex” the sauce, the better, we thought back then. Were we ever wrong! I have made this, sans butter, but I know that the butter will be the piece de resistance to make it perfect. However, having said that, do something for me–try the same sauce using cherry tomatoes–I know you will be delighted.
My Italian grandmother makes a similar sauce, except hers uses canned tomatoes– which I think would be a fine substitute in your recipe– and no butter. And she doesn’t do the infused oil, but she cooks a variety of meats in the sauce which gives it a lot of flavor. Ok, I guess it’s not very similar, but it does share the style of using tomatoes without onion or carrot or whatever.
in relation to 141, I forgot to add, that in point 1, the skins don´t get grated–the tomatos are squished against the grater while grating, using the skins as the protective bit between fingers and graters–skins are left behind more or less intact and discarded or tossed into stock…The success of this simple sauce is in the method and in having ripe product..
I just wanted to chime in about freezing sauce. I freeze my sauce in muffin tins. As soon as it’s frozen, you can flip the tins over and pop the sauce out and wrap in plastic wrap and then put a bunch of muffin sauces in large freezer proof bags. This keeps the freezer-burn out and a muffin’s worth of sauce is the perfect amount for 2 servings of pasta.
Incidentally, before I clean the tomato sauce pot I wipe it down with a piece of bread. That bread, with the sauce that clung to the sides and bottom of the pot, is the most delicious thing ever.
I am currently in love with Sra. Hazan’s Tomato with Onion and Butter sauce, but now I must try this! Right now! (ok, tonight for dinner)
I’ve been making tons and tons of sauce lately. I don’t have a canner, but it freezes just as well! I’ve been alternating between slow-cooked sauces loaded with basil before my basil dies, and raw sauces that are so easy to make! Just like every gardener is typically swarmed with tomatoes, every cook knows that fresh sauce with ripe tomatoes can’t be beat.
LOVE THIS!!! I am always searching for a good tomato sauce and have never found one that makes me stop looking for another recipe! Can’t wait to try this. Thanks for sharing….oh and the pennea la vodka from 5 years ago looks freaking delicious as well…gonna try that one as well!
I made this recipe for my husband and I last night and it was amazingly simple and oh-so delicious… made me feel like I was an Italian G-Ma! My hubs was ready to knock it before he tried it due to the sauce-to-pasta ratio being a little less than normal. 30 seconds into eating, he was apologizing, almost profusely, and hailing me as THE all-time chef&wife! Not a bad way to spend a Wednesday night – thanks! I will be holding onto this one :)
You had me at naked.
I MEAN TOMATO SAUCE. YOU HAD ME AT TOMATO SAUCE.
Really though, Deb – this is my most faaavorite thing to make. DEE.VAAAHN.
Good tomatoes that are ripened in the sun make a good tomato sauce. We have a huge garden and I put up only tomato sauce, no diced, whole or anything of that nature. I put up two kinds, just tomatoes and and the Family Secret Sauce from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.
Marcella’s tomato sauce with tuna is what taught me how to make the sauce that my family extols. It is, just like you say, simply tomatoes. Except in Marcella’s version, you steep crushed garlic in olive oil until it’s just barely toasted, THEN add the tomatoes.
This is how I make every tomato sauce now. Sometimes I toss in the tuna and finish with butter, like Marcella told me to. Sometimes I add a T of paste to the oil and garlic to give some carmelized tomato flavor for a pizza. But that’s it. And everyone loves it.
In reference to #149-Caroline…the act you describe, savoring every last bit of yummy sauce clinging to the pot by scooping it up with some bread is called “la scarpetta” (at least that what it is known as in my family’s region of italy)
anyone else hear of this? anyway I thought that was cool since its the name of the restaurant in the post.
MommaWowMia. I never considered myself a pasta/sauce snob until we returned from Italy last year…then I proudly wore my badge, feeling free to turn my nose up at anything that was from a “factory” restaurant as nothing compared to the Motherland. I told the Mister I had read a recipe for Naked Tomato Sauce, he smiled, thinking we would be eating it naked…not in this lifetime…but we will be eating it tonight because I cannot imagine how a naked sauce can taste better than one that’s simmered for hours over a hot stove. I’m definitely intrigued…time to shine up my badge. Buon Appetito! xoxo, Nan PS, Is the little one really turning one? Time flies!
This is SO GOOD! Really subtle, yet flavourful. And also simple and inexpensive. This is now my favourite tomato sauce!
Fresh tomatoes, olive oil, salt and a pinch of red pepper flakes cannot be a bad thing at all!!!!
Congrats for being on the Times The Best Blogs of 2011 list!! You rock!
perfect in every way!
I just made this recipe a few days ago using fresh tomatoes from my garden. I used gnocchi instead of spaghetti. It was really easy and so delicious. I have a feeling the basil-garlic oil is the magic touch to transform even store-bought jars of tomato sauce if I’m short on time or tomatoes. The leftover oil can be strained and stored in the fridge for a few more days.
It’s really good. :)
I made this last night OMG. Sooo easy and so awesome my new Vito Tomato sauce recipe. Thank you!!!
Don’t know how Vito got in my last message.
YUM – my roma tomato plants are heavily covered in dark red fruit – the timing of your recipe is perfect. My 15 yr old son is a pasta fanatic, and I’m sure he, too, will be grateful!
I wonder if the water used to blanch the tomatoes might not contain things leached out of the skins (if the tomatoes aren’t organic) that would make it better to cook the pasta in fresh water?
This is simply divine, I made it using small roma and cherokee purple tomatoes from my garden, didn’t change a thing otherwise, very easy to throw together.
HEAVEN! I highly recommend adding the butter at the end, the result is the silkiest most luxurious sauce. Honestly, I could talk dirty about this sauce for hours. I’m in lust.
Scott Conant made this recipe on an episode of “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” on the Food Network. Ted Allen picked it as the best thing he’d ever eaten ‘with sauce’ or ‘sauced’, and Scott went through the recipe on camera from start to finish. If you’ve seen the show, the chefs always tell you exactly how they make the dish that the person chooses, so if you want the exact instructions straight from the horse’s mouth (and not just filtered through Serious Eats, as good as they are), just check out that episode!
Please note that everything I’ve read about canning says that you CANNOT safely waterbath anything with added fats. I suppose one could stop before adding the oil and/or butter and make sure to add lemon juice to attain safe acid levels, but in the spirit of making ahead so it’s easy – freezing is a much better option. And since this could be made with canned tomatoes anyway, just can the tomatoes. :-) Love y’all, but please be safe when preserving!!
Sounds like and yummy and it looks amazing! What a perfect transition to fall recipe! Must try.
Pasta with homemade sauce is my happy place and my ultimate comfort food, this is the first recipe I’ve seen that I think could rival my Nana’s, thanks Deb!!!
I love making very simple tomato sauce, just like this one! I need to try infusing my olive with garlic, good tip! I have a gift certificate for Scarpetta that I am anxious to use!!
@ smittten Kitchen, How does this sauce freeze?
I grew up the daughter of a “canner.” My mom always canned her own tomatoes from the garden in the peak of summer and we used those throughout the year to make our own sauce. Since I don’t have access to those anymore and I didn’t seem to inherit the canning gene, the easy access to San Marzano tomatoes (good ones like Cento or San Marzano) are almost as good.
Since she cooked and canned like we might be in danger of going hungry, she also froze extra sauce and I did not ever taste any degradation if it was used within a couple of months.
From Frank Bruni’s review in the New York Times:
“Spaghetti, tomato and basil.” That’s all it says. That’s pretty much what it is. But however Mr. Conant is choosing and cooking the Roma tomatoes with which he sauces his house-made spaghetti, he’s getting a roundness of flavor and nuance of sweetness that amount to pure Mediterranean bliss.
And what he’s adding to the sauce — the aforementioned basil, along with a red-pepper-infused olive oil and Parmesan cheese — contribute measures of zip (just a little), saltiness (a little more) and smoothness (a lot) that are inarguably right. I had this dish twice, and twice it stacked up against any spaghetti al pomodoro I’ve had in Italy.
My southern lazian heritage says no to the butter but I know that such puritan ideas (even culinary) are dangerous. It sounds divine. I don’t know when I will get to the resteraunt so I may have to just try making it.
This sounds like a really divine sauce to make, satisfying….I love to let tomatoes simmer and break down until they become sauce, and I agree that adding butter gives it the most unbelievably silky taste and texture. I always add at least a touch of butter to mine.
I’m going to make this sauce when I have tomatoes next…
Ciao Deb, scrivo da Roma, in Italia, ma sono napoletana. Scusami se scrivo in italiano ma il mio inglese non è abbastanza buono per dirti quello che volevo; spero che tu abbia modo di ottenere una traduzione.
Volevo solo lasciarti qui nei commenti la ricetta che usiamo qui da noi per la salsa di pomodoro, visto che sei un’appassionata :-)
Noi mettiamo una padella bassa con il fondo coperto d’olio e uno spicchio d’aglio schiacciato a dorare a fuoco molto basso. Quando l’aglio è dorato aggiungiamo i pomodori (tipo san marzano, come quelli della tua foto, ma più maturi) spellati e schiacciati con le mani (a volte li facciamo scolare un pochino, ma poco), mescoliamo, alziamo leggermente la fiamma e lasciamo cuocere fino a quando il sugo non si separa nuovamente dall’olio e assume un sapore dolce.
Poi spegniamo, aggiustiamo di sale e condiamo la pasta cotta a parte, aggiungendo un po’ di basilico fresco spezzato con le mani (così non si ossida).
Niente burro, se qualcuno lo vuole un po’ di parmigiano.
Niente peperoncino, quello va nella pasta all’arrabbiata, che però vuole il prezzemolo e non il basilico.
Ci sono un milione di altre varianti, ma spero che questa ti sia utile. Un abbraccio e grazie per le tue bellissime ricette.
I very much like you posted a more basic tomato sauce, as it just gives the vegetable itself the possibility to show its taste from its strongest side, the tomato itself. And it gives a good idea for my own, self-grown tomatoes.
Marcella Hazan’s sauce is still tomato sauce nirvana to me. Everyone I’ve served it to simply marvels at it. I don’t know if I’m ready to part with it, now or ever…
I’m like you, always looking for the perfect tomato sauce. I can’t wait to make this. My search may be over!
BTW, this is basically Andrew Carmelini’s recipe from his Urban Italian cookbook. It’s very good and freezes well, too!
After buying Roma tomatoes at the little farmers market in Auburn NY, I made this in my tiny kitchen on Owasco Lake. It captures the taste of summer. Thank you for more way to enjoy summer tomatoes.
Add some homemade pasta and it sounds like the perfect dish!
I have to jump in here, because I will freely admit – I stayed in a very bad marriage to a Sicilian man because of the way he made tomato sauce. Absoutely true. I still dream of the tomato sauce and when I drop my kids off to his house and it’s on the stove, I waver…. And then go home and think about the tomato sauce……
Slice almost a whole head of garlic (not too fine, and fry in olive oil until softened. Add 2 tins of italian tomatoes (they are so much better). 2 chopped fresh tomatoes (seeds skins and all), 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Simmer for about 40 minutes or until really thick and slightly caremalised, squashing any lumpy bits on the back of a wooden spoon with a fork. Turn it off, and then add more extra virgin olive oil than you think is wise – maybe 1/4 of a cup? And throw some torn basil leaves in.
Add some chilli if you like, or toss some friend eggplant through the pasta after it is dressed in red.
So easy and oh my lord is it good. Good on sourdough toast too.
I made this tonight. Yum. Amazing. I was skeptical plunking it in front of me, the 17 month old and the three year old. Baby devoured his in seconds. Big guy was too busy talking to eat, but loved it. I was blown away. This is fantastic. I will try a larger skillet with the next 6 lbs. of homegrown non-Roma tomatoes when they’re ripe as it took much longer for those to reduce in the 5 quart pan as, I imagine, Roma. Butter=key. Thank you for dinner tonight!
Nothing like a simple sauce. my mouth is watering.
I made this tonight, and it was amazing! I didn’t add quite all the olive oil (I kept it though, as it smells great now and I’ll use it for salad dressing); maybe 3 tablespoons instead of the 1/4 cup, but I did add the 2 tablespoons of butter. I’m hoping to hunt down a big basket of tomatoes at the market this weekend to make a big batch and freeze it. Thanks Deb!!
Newbie here, just tried the zucchini and almond dish. It was great! I am in love with pasta (carboholic here), so I am so excited to try this new recipie! Since I had my little girl two months ago, I find it hard to make good meals easily since she wants to be held all the time. With your recipes I can eat well and feel good about the time spent in the kitchen. Thank you for sharing!
o dear. yum.
For the reserved oil, I have a basil olive oil, have you tried that adding crushed red pepper? Just wondering (although I like the idea of infusing your own).
Simple and lovely!
I made this last night with a mixture of plums and pink Bradley heirlooms. Walked out my door, picked them and made a dinner for two that was divine. Simple and lovely. At our house we call a dish like that “sex on a plate”. Thank you so much for sharing. I think I will make it again tonight.
Hi Deb. I’m Italian, and naked tomato sauce is something that made me grow up stronger. “Nothing” is the best ingredient you could have ever mentioned. Nothing, exactly. I dare say, that even if butter is our beloved God, in this sauce nothing is better :-)
I am making this today with my batch of CSA tomatoes…not plum though. Hope it turns out…and hope the freezer will be my friend here! This sounds delish!
Made this last night and it was awesome! Loved the red pepper flavor instead of black pepper, I might just give up my black pepper habit after this. I added 1 tablespoon of butter, how did I not know before that butter makes everything better?!?!?!!
I know this is besides the point, but I am intrigued by the tomato pint basket. Is it cardboard? Plastic? I assume it came from the farmer’s market…
Hi Deb and any other New Yorkers-My husband and I are vegetarians and are going to NYC for our first anniversary (from D.C.). Are there any veg-friendly restaurants you recommend? Thanks!
Mamta — If you want to go real fancy, there are a few farm-to-table-ish restaurants that have vegetable tasting menus. Gramercy Tavern, off the top of my head, Blue Hill if you get the farmers feast… hope that helps! (I haven’t been a vegetarian in years but always order the vegetable menus because I’m more impressed by what chefs can do to transform vegetables than if they tastefully cook a piece of steak.)
Cecily — Whoops! I forgot to add that. I do it all of the time.
Karin — So it’s not just my kid that will pretty much eat anything in tomato sauce?
Brilliant. I made this last night. I dreamt about it all night. Thanks for sharing the recipe.
Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice! A while back Andrew Carmellini did a “You’re Doing it All Wrong” video for Chow on saucing pasta, and he said the butter is very important to smoothing the sauce. He also always adds some pasta water for a little extra starch.
Can’t wait to make this over the weekend!
Yum! Now I know what I’ll be doing with the 20 or so ripe, red tomatoes on my kitchen counter. No such thing as too much tomato sauce, mmm!
How do you think this recipe would be for pizza sauce?
OK, you throw down a recipe like this and of course I have to go home from work and immediately make this sauce, as I just happen to have exactly 3 lbs of tomatoes from farmers market sitting in a bowl waiting for me……I have been making the Marcella recipe for the last year (my go-to quick dinner), and now this. My husband is quite the critic, we both sat down, took a bite, and yes, we were hooked. Not sure why it’s as delicious as it is, but it sure works. I laugh as I read your blog, you have a separated at birth twin in California.
@158 – Maria: I haven’t heard of scarpetta (other than the restaurant), but I have heard of “scorpacciata,” beautifully described by Mario Batali here: http://eatocracy.cnn.com/2010/09/10/scorpacciata-mario-batali-explains-it-all/
And it just so happens I have tomatoes from my mom’s garden and basil from my boss’s in the fridge right now! I know what I’m eating for dinner tonight…
I used your basil/garlic infused oil idea on roasted vegetables(carrots, Brussel sprouts and peppers) and whole wheat pasta last night. Great idea to get some flavor added.
Oh my goodness! I love so many of your recipes but this one was absolutely divine! So simple and so perfect. Thanks for all that you do to make eating (and reading about food) so wonderful!
Love the tomato basket. Is it porcelain and where did you get this? First comment but I am a big fan.
I made this sauce last night and it turned out wonderfully. I will admit that I added about five times the amount of garlic you suggested (maybe ten times), but otherwise, I kept to your recipe. I agree, it doesn’t need cheese at the end- very rich and luscious.
Is the pasta at Scarpetta truly worth the price? My Mom wants to try it, but is worried about her Italian aunts reaching from beyond the grave just to scold her for paying so much money for some pasta they would make for lunch when there was nothing else in the house.
Alyssa — You should make it at home! Then for $24 you could feed your whole family. :)
Oh I love simple flavors in pasta. This looks so delicious :)
This is possibly one of the most fresh tomato sauce out there. I love how simple this recipe is, and I crave a simple yet delicious pasta now :D Cheese is so overrated and I am glad you left it out!
“1 tablespoon unsalted butter, or maybe two if nobody is looking”…
HAHAHA! I am literally wiping away tears at this one, being a southern girl married to an die hard olive oil Lebanese man. I always add a splash of olive oil in case he asks…shhh ;)
Made this last night & loved it — so fresh and light. Next time I will add a little more red pepper flakes to the olive oil (my “pinch” was not enough). Thank you for all the delicious recipes!
Took a chance and made it for company before trying it out first – not roma, but tomatoes fresh from my garden – yellow and red creole, and basil from my herb garden, and a purple onion. It was beautiful!!!!! Everyone loved it – even my finiky four year old. I put a little pepper flakes, because of the kids, and added more for me later on my own plate. You are correct – it is good enough without cheese!
Following up from my earlier comment–made it! I infused the oil first and cooked the tomatoes in it, but that was the main change I made. For next time, though, as a Maryland girl, I can’t help but wonder how this sauce would taste with a pinch of Old Bay instead of the red pepper flakes.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again – I love you.
I was curious as to which brand of dried spaghetti appears in your photo. I want some!
I am going to make this tonight, and I am going to have to use canned tomatoes. Do you you think I should use two 28 oz cans or so? Should I drain the liquid, you think? Thanks.
Midgetsal — De Cecco. From the bodega. Very fancy. :)
This was delish! And so darn easy. Thanks, Deb, you’ve done it again!
I made this tonight–delish!
Right before I added the infused oil, I tasted the “naked” tomatoes. They reminded me a lot of tomato soup. So I ladled about a cup of the cooked tomatoes out into a bowl, and added a couple of tablespoons of cream. It was amazing! The best, most tomato-ey soup I ever had. It’s going to be my go-to recipe for tomato soup from now on! What a happy discovery :)
I just made this and wanted you to know that: 1. All three kids cleaned their plates and said, “Wow, this is great!” at some point during dinner. 2. My husband and I both took second helpings. 3. This sauce pairs beautifully with fresh spinach fettuccine. 4. Without a doubt, this will now be my go-to sauce recipe. Many thanks!
Made this tonight too and it was a big hit! I normally DOUSE my pasta with cheese and this did not need it at all. In fact, I added some parmesan to my last few bites and I think it was better without. Forgoing the cheese makes me feel slightly better about the butter (and I used european-style extra fat butter). I didn’t end up using the reserved tomato juice but I added it to my leftover sauce to refrigerate so it will reheat well.
Made this tonight–it was so good! It’s also first pasta water add in I’ve done. What’s the purpose of this?
Made this twice already. Really loved the simplicity. I reduced the olive oil to about a couple of tablespoon.
I’ve made this twice this week (and it looks like I’m not the only one). It’s not basil season here in Australia yet, so I’ve used oregano, but regardless, it’s delicious!
I’ve just come back from a holiday in Croatia where they had the best tomatoes I’ve ever eaten. This recipe’s making me miss them even more! I often make a puttanesca sauce as a base to which I add other things (smoked sausage, tuna etc) for lunch but I think I’ll be using this instead now, especially when I’m adding ingredients too delicate to compete with the anchovy saltiness of puttanesca.
Just wanted to stop by and say a quick hello!
I am so so excited to try this recipe asap! You are so right about how spaghetti and tomato sauce is simply perfection.
I feel as if you and your blog have forever solved the inevitable question of ‘what to eat?’ Looking forward to following via bloglovin’!
Have a fantastic labour day!
Just tried this, and it was amazing! I didn’t love the Hazan tomato butter sauce so much, but this. This is to die for. I had a mixture of plums and some other variety from the farmer’s market (just small round more or less generic looking tomatoes) and it worked fine. I also didn’t read the recipe closely and added all the tomato juice at the beginning. It was fine, though I might have had to cook it down a bit more than I would have otherwise. I added the butter, and it definitely gave it that wow factor, and it just did not need any cheese. Can’t wait to get more tomatoes and make this again before the summer is gone.
So I made this sauce. This must sound so silly, but I never thought of adding oil or butter to a tomato sauce! So simple! This is like eating velvet.
I’m floored! Have to teach my father this trick!
So simple and perfect. Made our place smell incredible. De-seeding the tomatoes took a while for me (I’m slow?), but it was totally worth it. I waited to add the reserve juices until the end, with the pasta — no need for the extra pasta water. Now, I’m curious about other oil infusion possibilities. Thank you for a delicious dinner tonight — looking forward to the leftovers!
O. My. Gosh. This was amazing. I was a skeptic. No cheese? Really? But three large helpings later…I am here to tell you that this is the best Italian dish I have ever had…let alone made myself. I even used whole grain thin spaghetti and didn’t regret it. Amazing. Thank you SK!
I have never eaten at Scarpetta’s, but I see them often on The Today Show and their recipes make me drool! The simple recipes are always the best, arent’ they? Growing up, my mom always put butter on our pasta before adding the sauce- it’s amazing! I can’t wait to make this recipe!
Jacob is so adorable, Deb. I love finding the links in your posts that lead to photos of him! :-)
I read your posts and I try quite a few of your recipes. I was intrigued but skeptical about so simple a sauce. I dared to try it over the weekend and it was exceptional! I kept muttering (to myself) how good it was and how I just could not believe it. Thank you, thank you.
You. Are. Awesome. Awesome, and a mind reader. We just recently ate at Scarpetta for the first time (mostly because we were dying to see what the hubbub about the spaghetti was all about), and totally fell in love with the sauce too. Thanks for posting — my DH and I were just talking yesterday about how we needed to get cracking on recreating the dish.
Um, I just snuck into the pantry and licked the sauce off the plate at the end of dinner. I didn’t need my toddler seeing that!
To die for!
Thanks so much.
Sensational!!!! There will never be another tomato sauce recipe for me! I, too, look for the ultimate tomato recipes every year around August. We have a plentiful garden, and my husband brought home 18 pounds of the most beautiful plum tomatoes……so I just had to make this. Let’s just say…..he was eating the sauce by the spoonful…..and we didn’t have pasta for dinner. It is so good I canned all of it and only “put up” 6 pints…..but it is so worth it come winter. Thank you, thank you. I am a new addict to your website and find you and your writings so engaging!
I boiled and peeled the tomatoes just as you instructed, how could I have not known how easy this was? I plan to make this along with the tomato and corn pie you featured last summer. It’s a tomato fest!
Pure bliss. I love the simplicity. Will give it a try this weekend. Can’t wait to fill the house with the wonderful aroma of fresh cooked tomato sauce!
Hi Deb! I think I’m joining the hundreds of people who have lurked on your site for ages, and then commented- finally! You were the first food blog that I found, and this is the first recipe from this blog that I made (I know, I was swept away by the pictures). I went to a farmer’s market to specifically buy fresh tomatoes for this, and the sauce was delicious! I’m also proud that I made something as complicated-looking as the Serious Eats post made it :)
Delicious delicious! Made this last Friday :) Pure, simple, elegant – such a beautiful sauce!
P.S. Meg, above – you HAVE to make the corn and tomato pie ASAP – one of the best things I’ve put in my mouth EVER.
Delicious! It was a bit time-intensive for a weeknight meal, but oh so delicious! The boyfriend asked me to please put it in the repeat file. Yay!
Deb, I made naked tomato sauce for dinner this evening and must thank you for such an simple, elegant and delicious dish. The steps are easy enough that I can remember them without having to refer to the recipe, which means I can make it anywhere, any time for friends and family.
The best and unexpected part is the infused olive oil. I made more than the recipe called for because, well, BASIL, but dragging fresh bread through it, with a little grated Parmesan, was divine. What a great meal all the way around.
Oh, dear Lord!!!! This sauce is delicious!
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I share your ardor for spaghetti and tomato sauce, and I LOVE Scarpetta. This sounds like the perfect late summer kitchen project. I’m afraid of putting nothing in the sauce, but you’ve never led me astray. And, of course, there is that butter I can add. Butter makes any day better. Thanks, again.
Oh I agree with Darlynne above! As I was getting this onto the table, I had already registered the techniques into my list of tricks when cooking for others.
I love recipes that introduce me to a new method that i can incorporate into other dishes. The low heat infusion of garlic, basic and red pepper is just that. My husband used the same method the following night to infuse some oil with rosemary and garlic for some potatoes that he was making. Simple techniques that I don’t necessarily think to employ.
And the sauce was outstanding. Thank You!
I made this tonight, and it was DELICIOUS.
I made this last night, and thought I’d died and gone to heaven. My suggestion for making it really good is to use fresh organic ingredients (my garlic and basil were from the farmers’ market and the tomatoes were half-off at the local grocery because some were a bit bruised). This simple sauce shows off every ingredient perfectly, and I can’t wait to make it again.
Mmmm, I just made a huge batch of sauce and can smell this through the monitor! I make mine slightly different but it’s all good. I think you cannot screw up home made sauce because something magical happens when you cook down good tomatoes. I make mine like this:
Put onion/carrot/celery into blender and puree, then saute in deep stock pot with a splash of extra virgin olive oil.
Put ridiculous amounts of home grown Cherokee Purple tomatoes into blender, seeds, skins and all – just core them first – and puree. Pour this tomato puree into the stock pot in batches until you have it about 1 inch from the top of the pot top. Bring entire pot to slow boil then cover and simmer for as long as it takes for the pot to reduce by 1/3 to 1/2 down the side of the pot. If you want it thicker, reduce it more. I add fresh basil at the end, some sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, a few red pepper flakes, and then let cool. Pour into freezer containers and enjoy during the winter for pizzas and pasta, reliving the days of summer when it’s cold and dreary outside.
Would you recommend this sauce for pizza?
A great use for the extra tomatoes is to make sauce. I add a bit of oil to the sauce and use it on pizza, spaghetti, etc.
Just made this for dinner tonight. Wow, you were right! The best sauce yet. I can’t stop eating it! No cheese needed!
One of the other superbly easy pure-tomato methods is to make a roasted tomato sauce. I’ve used Suzanne Goin’s amazing yellow tomato confit, which she uses as a prawn sauce (link below) as a pasta sauce with excellent results. The skins blister and come right off the tomatoes, go in a blender, poof, done. Somehow the recipe below left out the puree-ing instructions – just put the solids in a blender (without the chiles and the herbs) and add enough of the liquid to make a sauce. The leftover roasting oil can go in the fridge and makes everything amazing.
Made this tonight with the recommended 2 tbsp. of butter. My tomatoes were ones from the garden that were a little more acidic than usual, so I did sprinkle a little cheese on top, but if I had less acidic tomatoes, I don’t the cheese would have been necessary. Way to go Deb! Another fabulous recipe. Tomorrow I’m making those zucchini fritters for lunch…yum.
Hi Deb! I’m from Amsterdam, Holland and I’ve recently discovered your blog. What amazing recepies and so simple! I’ve added some to my standards. My uncle in Italy makes the best pasta ever, not to be topped, but I’m eating yours now (at the moment!) and it brings me back to the south of Italy!!! I’m currently ill and was checking your website out in my bed, and just HAD to try it. So I went downstairs -almost in pyjamas- and to the store. I hadn’t eaten breakfast, and this was my first meal of the day. Unbelievebly delish! And so heavy! I’m stuffed now!
I wish you all the best in writing this blog, you are a very funny writer and my favourite blogger!
Greets from Amsterdam, Lotte
ooooh, this looks perfect. my favorite thing to do after i eat a meal of spaghetti and sauce is to take any leftover spaghetti, put it in my empty bowl (which has light sauce remnants in it), mix it up and then add… butter. why don’t i just have that for dinner my husband asks every time… because i love it both ways! maybe this recipe will combine my two taste requirements into one… i’ll try it. just discovered your blog — it’s great!
Gosh, if this sauce is this delicious when made with the not-so-great tomatoes at my local grocery store,* I can’t imagine how good it would be with perfect tomatoes. I left out the pasta water, mostly because I forgot but partly because I had enough leftover tomato juice to make a properly thinned sauce and partly because I could just throw chunks of tomato on my pasta and call it sauce.
Also, I just finished reading Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential, the main lesson of which seemed to be that I should be putting butter in my sauces. Now that I’ve done it, I can’t say that he’s wrong.
*The fact that the tomatoes were not-so-great is bewildering to me. I live in California; usually produce looks fantastic if it’s even remotely in season.
I made this for dinner tonight! It was so great!! My poor sick roommate scarfed it down, and she’s been ill for a few days now. This is the best tasting dinner I’ve made all month, and that’s without accounting for ease of preparation.
Wow…so delicious. I made this last night with fresh market tomatoes, and was absolutely blown away with the tomatoey goodness. We actually made an herb infused olive oil (oregano and thyme) and used that for the garlic/basil simmer which was great as well.
I won’t buy non-local out of season tomatoes because, well, they taste terrible. Unfortunately the local crop didn’t seem to fare well or last long here so I made this with two 28oz cans of San Marzanos instead (which is what I think the restaurant uses anyway).
It was excellent. Probably the best tomato sauce I’ve ever had. My toddler ate 2 bowls, and my husband barely mentioned the lack of meat so it was a hit all around.
I’m making it again tonight, but in a larger batch so I can put some over stuffed shells. Yum.
Made. Devoured. Extremely happy. THANK YOU!
I loved this! Thank you so much!
This has been my summer for cooking tomatoes – soups, salads and now this.
I used half heritage plum tomatoes from the Farmer’s Market and half organic plum tomatoes from WF. Of course I went to WF only because I didn’t buy enough of the Farmer’s Market. I also grilled the tomatoes on a gas grill which added just a little smokey flavor and eliminated the need to parboil them to peel them. Unlike you I had a LOT of sauce – which was good because I’ve used the leftovers for omelets and as a sauce for “waffled” eggplants. I wonder of some tomatoes are meatier than others.
Cooking this lovely sauce as I type! Turning out well however I should have stuck with the masher instead of blending the tomatos. Oh well, I have a crapload of extra smooth tomato puree for future soups…
I almost cried when I saw this recipe. Simple tomato sauce, I’ve made gallons. However, there was something about Scarpetta’s sauce that was magical. For 15 years my Father sends me the dining section from the NYT’s. (I live in AZ). Once a year we pick one of the restaurants reviewed and go to it. About 6 years ago we went to Scarpetta’s. It was one of the most amazing meals and memories I have had. My Father is now 89 years old and in poor health. I am flying to NY next week to visit with him and he wants me to take him to Scarpetta’s!! I am not sure he will be up to a trip, but, if I can recreate the meal. Heaven. Thank you for this. You have no idea what this simple recipe means to me.
We have made this sauce twice now since you posted the recipe– using tomatoes grown in our garden (several varieties combined: Early Girl, Red Lightning, Fourth of July), and I just had to come and thank you SO MUCH. I LOVE THIS RECIPE. I don’t know if I’ll ever make another from-scratch tomato sauce after this! We made it pretty much exactly as your recipe states (we didn’t have red pepper flakes, so we left them out, but being pregnant, I really don’t need something to add to my heartburn, haha!!) and it is perfection. Oh yum. I just ate it for dinner and I’m already craving it again… :)
Thank you for giving me a recipe that uses my garden tomatoes and I love the simplicity of the ingredients! It was the first time I peeled and seeded the tomatoes (usually I slow roast the bounty). Instead of finishing in the pan, I drained the pasta, added it back to the pot, added the butter and sauce and stirred. Again, thank you for your writing and your recipes!
Just prepared this sauce. I’m covered in tomato juice and olive oil, but it’s totally worth it. Absolutely fantastic.
This is the first “real” dish I made since we had our baby several months ago. Have spent too much time and money on take out food… This tomato sauce is absolutely the best tomato sauce I’ve ever had!!! It’s amazing and out of this world. Thank you for sharing!!! This tomato sauce gave me back my desire to cook again. Next time I’ll add some toasted pine nuts, shrimps and feta cheese. But it’s fantastic just as it is, we literally licked the bowl.
This is really yummy. I have been wanting to make this since you posted, and haven’t had a chance. I finally got to it tonight. Found that my fresh plum tomatoes were a touch woody, and couldn’t find my potato masher. Also took me forever to peel and de-seed my tomatoes, so we didn’t eat until 9pm. BUT… totally worth it all. even with a little bit woody tomatoes, it was just delicious. I made it planning to have dinner for a few more nights. After my boyfriend attacked it i maybe have 1 tiny serving left.
This is JUST the kind of recipe I was looking for. I got back from Italy a few days ago and I am in the Italian food kind of mood but I have lost desire to cook since moving to a college dorm room with two little hot plates and only a few pots. But this spaghetti has given me hope. I can actually do this recipe in my little kitchenette and it looks so tasty! Thanks so much. I can’t wait to read your other posts.
I’ve made many tasty tomato based sauces for pasta over the years. Many of those I will make again! Naked tomato sauce is unlike any other I’ve prepared…deliciously fresh tasting and very satisfying. Thankyou.
Tonight I made naked tomato sauce… again. I have four jars of it in the freezer and enough to have for dinner tomorrow night. This is the best sauce ever. I’ll never be able to have any other tomato sauce on pasta.
Fantastic recipe! I am devastated I only got around to making it at the END of tomato season. Thank you so much for posting this.
This has become my new favorite tomato sauce recipe. I’ve made it twice in the past week, I enjoy it that much.
I highly recommend not adding the pasta water unless you absolutely must. This is my first smitten kitchen recipe that hasn’t turned out well, soupy and bland. I think without the pasta water things would have turned out just fine. It definitely uses a lot of tomatoes, which is a good thing.
I just read this. Nice and easy. Glad to see someone else likes plain ol’ tomato sauce like me. Keep up the good work! Look forward to reading your posts.
Hey! This looks like my alltime favourite dish!
This sauce was amazing! I made it once earlier in the summer with San Marzanos, and found I needed to add some of the reserved juice. Over the weekend, I made a huge batch with early girls, which were way juicier and much more difficult to peel and de-seed. Because of the extra juiciness, I had to cook it an extra 20 minutes or so before it was thick enough to use as sauce. The immersion blender method worked well for me to break it down at the end too. Then, I froze a lot of it, and am looking forward to a taste of summer during the winter.
I was pretty excited about this but became less so as the process dragged on. I had a mishmash of sill-ripened tomato varieties from the garden (picked before temperatures dropped here in Missouri), so I knew they weren’t of the highest quality — plus, they took FOREVER to seed! By the time I was halfway through seeding the batch, I’d decided that, no matter how good the sauce was, it couldn’t be worth all the trouble.
Oh, I was so wrong. Low-quality tomatoes notwithstanding, the sauce had brightness and depth at once. It tasted fresh and beautiful and definitely needed no addition of cheese. Gorgeous. Next time, I’ll use a variety better suited to easy seeding.
It’s pretty amazing that I had the roughest day with the baby, most of which occurred DURING the sauce-making process, yet will still think fondly of this incredible dish. (And yes, I used the butter.)
Not sure if anyone’s mentioned this already in the comments, but Scott does a tutorial in an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, the topic du jour: techniques! Watch here: http://mydownload.tv/anthony-bourdain-no-reservations/season/7/episode/11
Deb, I could seriously kiss you for posting this simple but impossible to find recipe. I used to date an Italian 25 years ago and his mother made us lunch every day. Her name was Iolanda. Her sauce was THE best Sauce I have EVER had. Better than the Best Italian restaurants from NY to California. A few came close but at $20+ a pop. Although I do not miss her son, I certainly miss her. My only regret was not having her teach me how to make her sauce. Until now!!!!! Kiss you! She did add cheese to the sauce that she cooked in (you could not see it though), you could tell because it coated the fork. I think it was parm.
Oh, and San Marzano D.O.P. certified canned tomatoes work great! That is what Iolanda used in the winter.
I just made this for supper this evening and it was delicious! I have never blanched tomatoes before and was exciting! I did not have basil, so I replaced it with fresh parsley and it tasted delicious. I love garlic, so I added about 5 cloves of garlic instead of the one. :) Adding a touch of fresh pepper tied it all together as well! I am holding myself back from a third serving! Thanks for sharing!
Hey Deb — long time reader, never before commentator. Just wanted to say that I’ve been making iterations of this tomato sauce my whole life and have never before found one this spectacular — my long quest to the finish has ended. Every time I make it, it’s the best meal I’ve had. Thank you so much!
Tonight I opened a jar of this sauce that I made last fall and preserved. It was just as lovely as it was in the summer/fall. Only summer in a jar in February after 20 inches of snow is somehow so much more perfection. I’m savoring the last few jars until tomatoes are ripe again this summer. Thanks!
I’ve been voraciously reading SK’s recipes for years and today was the first time I made something from your website! This looked painfully easy and despite missing a few ingredients (like basil and red chili flakes, which probably would have two additional layers of depth and flavor), the sauce still came out luscious and wonderful. It’s an extremely forgiving recipe (hahaha, someone forgot to strain the juices and couldn’t find decent tomatoes for the life of her…) and I am in love~
Even the plain and generic tomatoes my mom impulsively buys because they are incredibly cheap managed to put up flavors like I never expected!
The next time I get my hands on that many tomatoes, I know exactly what dastardly plans I have in store for them. >:)
So I commented on the onion and butter sauce by saying that I would never make another sauce again. I lied. This sauce is better, fresher, and tastier than anything else I’ve ever come across. I used canned tomatoes, because they were easier – but it was still the most delicious tomato sauce that I’ve ever had. I’ll be making this again… perhaps tomorrow.
I made this sauce last September (2011) with about 16 pounds of paste tomatoes as well as farm fresh basil and garlic from our CSA farmers. I did obsessive tomato sauce research and chose this one as my trial for freezing tomato sauce for the winter. It made about six servings, five of which I froze, and started to bring out in the cold winter months. I literally cannot wait until the beginning of the next month, which means I can defrost another one of my precious jars of tomato sauce. I actually had to cheat this past month, I couldn’t wait for April and we had a second meal on March 31st. Cost wise, it worked out to about $4.50 per recipe. More expensive than a can of pasta sauce, but as my husband says, I’ve never had a tomato sauce that tastes this good. It really captures the essence of summer and I crave it all winter long. It is my absolute favorite pasta sauce, I can’t wait to do this again this summer!
Thank you, thank you, thank you for this recipe. My husband is allergic to onions and I’ve been looking for a recipe w/o them forever (easier said than done ). Can’t wait to try this out!
This sauce is perfect on gnocchi.
I’ve made it twice this week! Delicious, but, still feel like it’s missing something…
I am never buying nasty old sauce in a can. This sauce was just too good to be true and I will be using it from now on! Thank you so much!!
I tried this recipe today. It’s simple and delicious!
i tried this w brown rice penne today – my italian craving is satiated for at least half a year :D i know the beauty of this recipe lies in its simplicity, but i couldn’t resist sprinkling some lemon zest as a finishing touch. really brightens the flavors up! (although, maybe if i actually used fresh tomatoes this wouldn’t be necessary :P)
This was amazing. THANK YOU!
Can I can this sauce? Will it be as good with big beefsteak and heirloom tomatoes?
GUYS GUESS WHAT I DID. Last night I made a huge batch of this sauce, and it was amazing (but blanching and peeling and deseeding tomatoes takes so long, sigh).
This morning I was thinking about what to make for breakfast, and I realized what I really wanted was just more tomato sauce. And I remembered that when I was searching this site for the naked sauce recipe, a shakshuka recipe also came up.
And so I poached an egg in naked tomato sauce. And it was incredible. Everyone should do it the morning after making this sauce.
Just made this last night. Amazing. So amazing that I went out and bought a dozen Romas so I could make a batch today and fridge it for next week. I know tomato season is over so I wanted to get the last bits. I’ll try with canned this winter probably because there is no way I will ever go back to jar sauce again. Also, Deb is right. No cheese needed. It is that rich and wonderful.
I made this recipe a few times over the summer with our homegrown tomatoes – big beef, brandywine and stupice. The big beef and stupice made the best sauce – brandywine were just too gooshy to properly seed. It was the BEST sauce I’ve ever made – hands down – and so simple. Definitely worthwhile to make the sauce in larger batches due to the minor mess created seeding your tomatoes.
Excellent with fresh or dried pasta and amazing with gnocchi, too. I tended to go a bit lighter on the oil in the sauce, toss with pasta and then garnish with a high-end varietal olive oil (like a fruity arbequina), parsley and parmesan prior to serving. Mmmm, can’t wait ’til next summer! Thanks for this life-altering recipe!
This recipe was absolutely stunning – I need to get to the store to restock ingredients so that I can recreate this masterpiece later this week as well. For the tomatoes I just grow my own, store bought just doesn’t compare!
I made this sauce the first time this Valentine’s Day for my boyfriend. He loved it! I stuck to the recipe and it was so delicious. I made it again tonight and this time he helped me. He put a little heavy cream in it and it was … I can’t explain how delicious this was. We’ll never know how much cream he put in because I was shouting at him not to put much cream in it. We also put tons of fresh basil. It was literally so delicious, after we had polished off our dinner, I still kept dreaming about it! Thanks for posting this delicious recipe!!!
It being March here in Virginia, and no local in-season tomatoes available, i used canned San Marzano. i should have known better, but (hangs head in shame, and also in my defense, i was distracted by the hubs talking to me while i’m trying to follow the recipe) even though I used just a little salt, it was way too salty! Wah! So, i added all the reserved liquid and i know, i know, quelle horreur, i added a little sugar to tone it down and then simmered more to reduce. My italian mama would be horrified at the sugar, too. But, it was wonderful over the fusilli con buco i mixed in. Thank you for another great recipe, Deb!
This is the first time I have ever commented on a recipe- due to the fact that I always end up tweeking the recipes I find. But this recipe was absolutely delicious! I love this recipe!!! I especially Love the fact that there is no tomato paste or canned tomatoes involved. The only slight issue I had was that I only made the 3lbs of tomatoes and I felt that if I thickened it up as much as I would have liked to, there wouldn’t of been a whole lot left(I also added meatballs to the sauce at the end-so awsome!). But I will definately be making a much larger batch next time so I can freeze some. Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe….this will be forever added to my family’s favorites!
I just made this for dinner with backyard tomatoes and basil and had to lick the bowl clean! Yum! This is one of the most amazing ways to showcase tomatoes: in the elegant, humble bowl of Spaghetti Done Right.
The hubs came home with a cooler full of tomatoes from his co-worker’s garden this wk. Naked Tomato Sauce here we come! I plan to make quite a bit and freeze what doesn’t get chowed down in the next few days! We’ve had quite a few tomato pie/tarts, tomato salads, tomato this & that…am ’bout ready to be done tomatoes. Thanks Miz Deb for coming to the rescue once again!!
I’m a bit frugal so I couldn’t bear to toss the skins & seeds tonight (though I’ve made it exactly to recipe before which was amazing). Instead, I had fun slicing my vine tomatoes in half and squeezing the pulp/seeds into my pan, then finely chopping up the remaining tomato and adding that to the pan. I love how the butter at the end rounds out the acidity of the cooked down tomato juice =)
Hi Deb, do you think heirloom tomatoes would work here? We have them in such abundance this time of year, but I love this recipe so the way it is and I wouldn’t want to mess with it if you think plum is the way to go! thank you!!
Send some to me! (I have killed three heirloom plants this year, sigh.) Definitely use the best tomatoes you’ve got. That said, a good sauce tomato is always best (roma, San Marzano, etc.)
Can I make the sauce and freeze it to use later?
I am hoping your new site is still being improved. Trying to find tomatoes in your recipe index, no luck. Looked under summer, not in alpha order and couldn’t find tomatoes, why are they not in alpha order for easy access? Sorry, but your old site was much easier to maneuver in. I am very disappointed as I was a fan that looked into you site almost every day, sorry not any more unless you make it easier to find things.
I think the trouble with finding tomatoes is because I was being particularly pedantic when I set up the fruit and vegetable categories 7 years ago and put tomatoes under fruit. Because they’re technically fruit. It’s also technically annoying, and not intuitive. I just re-sorted them under vegetables.
This is wonderful! I haven’t made it yet, but since I am on the FODMAP diet (for people with various digestive issues), it is great, because I can no longer eat the onions and garlic that are in so many sauces. You can, however, infuse the onion or garlic in oil, and then remove it, before using the oil. This is because the sugars that cannot be digested by many people, are not fat soluble. Can’t wait to try it!
Hi Deb! I’ve been dreaming about this recipe since I got your newsletter yesterday! But at the farmers market I haven’t seen plum tomatoes, just regular ones and heirloom. Could I make this with regular tomatoes, you know the big roundish ones?
Yes, but I do find the most concentrated flavor in the plum or roma ones. A good tomato is a good tomato, though, and you’re pretty likely to be getting a good one this time of year.
Could this be made in batches and preserved either by freezing or in a water bath canning kettle?
Sounds yummy and not too complicated.
Yes… maybe. I know there are pH concerns with fresh tomatoes and for this reason most canners will tell they need additional acidity. I am 100% not a canning expert. I like the site Food In Jars as a reference and know she’s written a few times about tomatoes.
Holy wow. This was far and away the best tomato sauce I’ve ever made. I used canned tomatoes (whole, peeled) and simmered some meatballs in the sauce towards the end. I can’t believe such simple ingredients produce such a decadent, and delectable flavor. This is my perfect tomato sauce, and I will make it again and again. THANK YOU DEB!
This has become our standard sauce recipe, I have been making it at least twice a month with different tomato combinations (fresh peeled vs unpeeled, canned whole, some of each). The winning combo for greatest impact in least time seems to be one can of whole tomatoes and one of the “6 in 1” ground tomatoes. I throw it into the stove and let it simmer while I’m running around with the kids – timing is so flexible, I’ve started it in the morning and turned it off an hour or two later – then let it sit and finish it off as the pasta is boiling. I save the fresh tomatoes for the peak of the farmers market season!
Hi Deb, I’m finally getting around to posting on here after drooling over, and finally making, many of your recipes. They’ve never failed yet. A friend and I even made your lasagna Bolognese in an under-stocked dorm kitchen, and it was a huge hit. Anyway, I was wondering about putting meatballs in this sauce. One of my friends wants me to make spaghetti and meatballs for a date he’s going on. Is this the recipe to do that, or would meatballs affect the purity of this lovely sauce? It sounds like some other commenters have had some success, so also: when would you recommend putting them in, and what meatball recipe would you use?
This sounds amazing and I can’t wait to try it! I canned some tomatoes last year from the garden. Do you think that I could use them with this recipe?
Can I use cherry tomatoes? That’s all I have.
You can but they will be hard to peel. Great flavor, though.
I made this tonight and it was sooo delicious!! I plan on making a bigger batch next weekend and freezing it. Thank you for the amazing recipes! They never disappoint!
This recipe is just so good. It is my secret weapon for family dinners, dinner parties, and any old week night in August. Stop what you’re doing and try this, immediately! You too will be hooked for years, like I have been. Thank you, Deb!
I’ve made this three times since my tomatoes started coming in in August, each time, meaning to can or freeze the leftovers, and every time… no leftovers. So, so good.
I came about your blog here just today, march 12 of 2018 would you believe it, through (i think) inspiredtaste.net, and i simply can’t believe i havent seen it before (especially considering ive been obsessively reading all about food and recipes and gardens and the like for a few weeks now)! Been tapping the surprise! feature for a good part of the afternoon-and-also-evening-and-maybe-even-into-the-night, and ive gotta say i like it here. Not only do your recipes sound or look good, but your writing style. Your stories before a recipe. Specifically in a few of the tomato sauce posts (i really do get obsessive), i had actual tears in my eyes from laughing so hard at something you said. One thing was your food mill comment. I promptly died laughing whilst reading that post. Think its safe to say ill be back at least once, if not for the recipes, then for the amusement.
I had a bunch of tomatoes I needed to cook tonight, so first port of call was Smitten Kitchen. You didn’t disappoint! This went down well for dinner, and I have leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch! It’s a pity tomato season is about over, but I will be making it again at some point.
It is well past the time when anyone is likely to read this, but just in case- if you don’t mind a very smooth sauce, you can just roughly chop the tomatoes, throw them into the pot skin and all, boil a minute, immersion blend, then strain the seeds and skin out before simmering. I’ve made it both ways with no noticeable difference other than the inability to maintain chunks with this method.
Thanks for the tip — and yes, I always read new comments on old posts!
I made this tonight and as a very inexperienced cook (i.e. a very experienced university student,) I was so excited when this turned out perfectly! I did not strain the infused oil as I used a garlic press and dried basil flakes; these are things I would have likely added to the sauce anyways. Thank you so much Smitten Kitchen for meeting my needs for simplicity and becoming the one and only food blog I have ever chosen to follow. You give me hope that one day I will be able to provide a family with meals that a genetics degree just simply… cannot! P.S. I don’t know what it is that I have against immersion blenders, but boy do I love a recipe that provides alternatives!
I made this for the first time tonight and while the flavor was divine, the consistency (and color) of the sauce was disappointing. I followed the recipe to the letter and found the sauce to be runny (almost soupy), and much paler (almost pink-ish in color). In your pics the sauce looks red like tomato sauce I am accustomed to, and both thicker and smoother than mine, and it most definitely did not stick to our noodles. If you have any ideas why that might be, please share because we will continue to try to tweak this to get it right!
If it’s soupy, it’s better to cook it longer. Color has more to do with the tomatoes themselves; not all are fire engine red, of course. If you want to work on just rescuing the one you made, you might add a dab of tomato paste and cook it longer to help it come together.
No matter what recipe I try, I know that yours will surpass all others. No dinner plan is complete, including tonight’s, without a detailed scouring of recipes on Smitten Kitchen. I was between ALL of your sauces but settled with this one (though settling isn’t quite the right word). Stumbled upon greatness? That’s more like it. Thanks for another winner and thanks for offering me the opportunity to fall in love with cooking!
I LOVE THIS RECIPE SO MUCH! So simple, fresh, pure and delicious! I’ve done it with a batch of early girls, romas, and regular on-the-vines, and they are all divine. It’s truly a sauce for spaghetti that I could eat until I burst. Thank you so much Debbie!
Brilliant article. Just bought some tomatoes from the market in Italy for making sauce, but I agree, the butter might make a huge difference. Will give it a go. Thanks!
that looks nice and simple. Thanks for sharing!
Hi! Hands down, my favorite tomato sauce recipe, ever. It is my go to – easy and so delicious. I make it all the time with all of the Romas from my garden. By the end of each summer I get to the point where everything is eyeballed and not measured, and it still turns out fabulous. Thanks, Deb!
This is the sauce I have been searching for. Transformed my large, pretty, kinda bland tomatoes (homegrown) into a masterpiece!! I’ve tried Marcela Hazan’s recipe and a few others in my quest to replicate the flavor of Rao’s red sauce and this one blows them away. I can’t say whether it actually tastes like Rao’s, but it’s so delicious I don’t even care anymore about that.
I didn’t bother straining the oil; mixed the garlic and basil pieces right into the sauce. Threw in an extra Clove of garlic for good measure. Divine.
One more note: This recipe makes a smidge over one standard size (26 Oz) jar of sauce.
I made this with our own garden tomatoes for breaking the fast for Yom Kippur. I mean, I know hunger played a role, but this was the best thing I’ve eaten in a long time. I did not deviate from the recipe. It’s the start of a good year.
This is an absolutely gorgeous recipe.
I will say, I wasn’t overly attentive with my garden and that my basil didn’t sprout this year, so I used dried. I also didn’t have enough tomatoes, but I was using things up.
I’m assuming it would freeze okay if you wanted to cook a bigger batch?
At first I thought it was a bit of a pita peeling and seeding the tomatoes, but the results were worth it. Nice to have a vegan recipe for a family who does love meat.
Very good article. I certainly love this site.
Keep it up!
Oh my gosh, I made this tonight – pretty small tomatoes, so I just quartered them and threw them in the pot, and then sieved the whole shebang about halfway through. No one except me likes tomato chunks in their sauce, so a smooth sauce is what works for our family. Everyone went back for seconds and my youngest had a third helping. Wow, this recipe is a keeper. Thank you!
may not need grated cheese but I’d still put some on
can you freeze the sauce?
This was my order at Scarpetta. I made mine with bucatini noodle which I prefer. OUTSTANDING!
The best I’ve ever made, even though I used canned tomatoes! I just added a bit of sugar to compensate. Thank you so much!
Dear Mrs. Smitt,
I made this. There was a voice in my head while I was eating it, it was telling me “G*d this is so good” with every. Single. Bite.
I enjoyed making it, I used the potato masher and got a really beautiful texture and mixed in into a big nest of really wide fettuccine.
It tasted like something from long ago, something nostalgic. Thank you for that experience (cooking it was also a pleasure.
Naively I put the entire pot on the table expecting that there would be incredible leftovers tomorrow, I have no remorse.
This was so good. I dis everything “wrong” (i.e. not the right kind of tomatoes, kept the skins on, did not cook for as long as suggested, etc.) and it was still so right. Thanks!
I’ve been making your recipe for years, it’s our go to. Just made it tonight with our massive garden harvest. For the first time, I actually kept the reserve juice and drank it whole with my 20 month old! Sometimes, I keep some of the garlic and sprinkle it into the sauce, sometimes not. Freezes very well! I always label it to remind me about the butter when we thaw it. Thank you, Thank you!
Can this recipe be canned? I loved it when I made it and would love to make tomato sauce to store this way but I’ve never canned before.
I love the Title! Such a simple and delightful sauce.
For tomato growers (especially if, like me, you have a steady trickle rather than an all-at-once harvest): if you cut an x in the bottom of your paste tomatoes and chuck them in the freezer, you can thaw them whenever you’re ready for this sauce. The skins will slip right off without boiling. Make sure you save all the juices and add them to the pot! Tastes exactly like summer fresh when its done. I like to make a big batch of the olive oil and freeze it too while my basil is peak. Yummmmm. This recipe is *the* best way to eat lovingly self grown tomatoes, basil and garlic.
ok l admit l have not tried your recipe but every time l cooked tomatoes or sauce that long it went acid, so l gave up until l learned to cook it quickly. I use small Piccadilly tomatoes, big as plum and oblong shaped NOT San Marzano which l find tasteless. In the US l have not seen them but as long as they are small tomatoes and ripe and from market or good source they’ll be alright. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a wide pan add a whole clove of garlic and after 1 minute add the tomatoes cut in half or pieces, seeds (very few) skin and juices. ln about the time the pasta cooks, 10 minutes, the sauce has started to thicken and the pieces can be mashed with a fork. Peeled canned whole tomatoes work the same way, best if you grew and canned it yourself. Drain the pasta saving water and mix it in the pan. What you add later, basil, oil, butter parmigiano, chili flakes does not matter, it will taste fantastic. I grow canestrini tomatoes which when ripe can be peeled cold and are not watery but creamy, sometime they are so sweet that the pasta taste like candy…. I am a lucky bastard living in Tuscany :-)
Have been following you for about 11 years! You never disappoint;you always make me laugh at least a few times in every “letter” you send. I guiltily and shamefully added butter to my spaghetti and sauce a few years ago to discover it turned it into a scrumptious treat. I’ve never told anyone I did this because of the guilt I felt. It was extra wonderful to read that, though still a secret, many others love it too!
This just gave my tomato pile from the garden that has been sadly almost fermenting on the counter a reason to have been grown. Holy cow! My first spoonful lead me to post a comment, thank you smitten kitchen for being ever-reliable.
Should have made more! Not one comment of “where’s the meat” from my house full of carnivorous males. I don’t even like tomatoes all that much. This will definitely go on repeat here