This classic Italian tomato sauce is as delicious as it is easy to make, and can be used as the basis for many dishes - be it a simple spaghetti supper, or pizza, ragù, lasagne, etc.
I make it in large batches, and then store it in the 'fridge in airtight glass jars; however, it can be frozen, and will keep for up to three months in the freezer.
How to make Italian tomato sauce
Like so many great Italian dishes, this tomato sauce (or sugo di pomodoro) starts with soffritto - a basic mix of onion, garlic, carrot, celery, and herbs that's gently fried to release the maximum of flavour.
Once the soffritto is done, add the passata, season, simmer for 20 minutes or so, then add some basil and parsley.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week if not using straight away, or in the freezer for three months.
I strongly recommend using passata; you can use fresh plum tomatoes but why bother when passata is easily available, and works perfectly?
You could also tinned tomatoes but as with fresh ones, you'll have to reduce them down to get the right flavour, and then push them through a sieve, thus making them not nearly as convenient.
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Classic Italian Tomato Sauce
- Low in calories
- Bursting with goodness
What a fantastic way to pack in essential vitamins and minerals!
How To Make Classic Italian Tomato Sauce
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium stick celery finely chopped
- 2 medium carrots finely chopped
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 8 large cloves garlic smashed
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 1 large bay leaf
- 1 kg passata
- dash sugar (up to about ¼ tsp)
- dash salt
- 1 handful fresh basil torn
- 1 handful fresh flat leaf parsley roughly chopped
- few grinds black pepper
Make the soffritto:
- Fry the onion in the oil over a medium heat until it begins to turn translucent (around 5 mins).
- Add the garlic, and continue to fry for another couple of minutes, until the raw smell has gone.
- Stir in the carrot, celery, rosemary, and bay leaf, reduce the heat, and gently fry for about 20 mins, until the onion becomes golden brown, and the other veggies have softened.
Make the tomato sauce
- Add the passata, sugar, and salt to the soffritto, and bring to a gentle bubble. Turn the heat down very low (it helps to have a diffuser, as this will keep the sauce from catching), and leave to gently simmer for another 20 mins or so, until it has reduced and thickened.
- Stir in the basil and parsley, and simmer for another five minutes.
- Taste - it should be rich, thick, herby, and slightly sweet. Season with black pepper, and then use in your favourite Italian dish.
- If you want a smoother sauce, you could blend it. This is especially good if using for pizza.
- If cooking pasta to have with this, once the pasta is cooked, add a small ladleful of the pasta water to the sauce, and beat it in. This brings the whole thing together, gives the sauce a slight gloss, adds seasoning (assuming you've salted the cooking water), and just finishes it off nicely.
- 1 cup = US cup = 240 ml
- 1 tablespoon = US/UK = 15 ml
- 1 fl oz = US = 30 ml
Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine
Sounds like a great classic home-made sauce
Thanks Rebecca, it's one of my all-time favourites!
Such a versatile and yummy looking tomato sauce!
Thank you, Kate - it's so good to have on standby too! x
Becca @ Amuse Your Bouche
This sounds sooo full of flavour, and so versatile. Really useful for keeping in the fridge for a quick and easy dinner!
It's definitely a good idea to make a batch - it's so easy to just whip up a pasta dish for dinner, especially when you're working late. Quicker than ordering a pizza delivery too!
This looks delicious. My boys both love pasta with tomato sauce. Something like this would be perfect for them as it squeezes in some extra veggies.
It's definitely a great way to get in some extra veggies, Charlotte. Thank you so much for stopping by, and leaving a comment - I really appreciate it! x
Kirsty Hijacked By Twins
You simply cannot beat a good, homemade Italian sauce, it is such a versatile sauce! Thank you for sharing. x
You really can't Kirsty - so much better than the stuff you buy in the shops (which used to be amato mio's solution when we first met!). x
It looks lovely! I rarely have the patience to make a pasta sauce properly like this and usually just use a tin of tomatoes and cook everything in about 10 minutes but I'm sure it's worth going to the extra effort every now and again, especially if you need a sauce to put on a pizza. Thanks so much!
It's totally worth making your own, Corina... but I accept that I am hugely biased because I've never found a pre-made sauce that I've liked! Also, it's so easy to make, and it stores really well too, so it makes a great standby to have in the 'fridge.
This is perfect timing! Found this post through #cookblogshare and tonight was going to be Spaghetti and Tomato sauce, definitely giving your recipe a go 🙂
Really? That's brilliant - I hope you love it! Thanks so much for stopping by, Josefine! x
I got around to making it. I used multi coloured carrots and shallots along with the rest of your ingredients. It was useful for the crispy chicken parmigiana that I prepared for supper. Thank you so much!
Huzzah, I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Shallots are actually a staple ingredient in Northern Italy, and often used instead of garlic, so you're keeping with tradition there!
If you don't have much success, you could make your own by pushing your de-seeded and de-skinned tomatoes through a sieve. It's a bit time-consuming but worth it!
What's a passata Nichole ?
Hi Smitha! I am so sorry, I forget that not everyone uses the same terms as me! Passata is a thick tomato sauce, which is made by cooking and sieving fresh tomatoes. Amanda has a great post on Chewtown, which explains it in detail, and has some fantastic photos too!
Apparently, passata is not very easy to find in Canada. However, now that I've figured out what it is, I am on a mission to find it. I'll let you know when I try your recipe!