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 tbsp 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 tbsp = US/UK = 15 ml
- 1 fl oz = US = 30 ml