How to make the best authentic Italian Tomato Sauce recipe from scratch – Easy, rustic and flavorful, it takes only 5 ingredients and 30 mins to make a staple of Italian cuisine at home.
This classic Italian tomato sauce is as delicious as it is easy to make, and it’s the foundation of so many traditional Italian dishes – I’m taking about tasty pasta with meatballs, bolognese sauce or even these awesome eggplant spaghetti sandwiches.
Growing up in an Italian kitchen, with my mum cooking tomato sauce at least 3-4 times a week, for me making classic Italian tomato sauce is absolutely no-brainer. But I’ve seen out there, that the struggle is real. Some people would add sugar, others use tomato puree or passata, and I’ve actually seen a few friends adding ketchup (?!) in their sauce.
Believe me, if you’re looking for the reeeally good stuff you don’t need any of the above.
All you need to make a GREAT authentic Italian tomato sauce is 5 simple ingredients: red onion, garlic, basil leaves, whole canned plum tomatoes and extra-virgin olive oil.
Using the right ingredients is crucial for making the best Italian tomato sauce. I opt for organic sweet small red onions, organic garlic, high-quality DOP extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil leaves and last but not least, organic whole plum tomatoes.
If you’re using fresh tomatoes (which I highly recommend when they’re in season), you need to blanch the tomatoes in simmering water for a couple of minutes, then peel the skin off and proceed with the recipe. It’s not easy to find super tasty tomatoes these days, so I mostly use properly-good canned whole tomatoes (best if you use the San Marzano variety).
Canned tomatoes are usually less sweet than fresh ones, so you may want to add a pinch of sugar whilst cooking up your sauce. If I have it at hand, I like to add a fresh bay leave to give my sauce the perfect sweetness balance. Also, make sure you remove all the seeds from the tomatoes, as they’re a little bitter.A great homemade Italian Tomato Sauce takes a little patience to make, but it’s definitely worth it. The secret lies in slowly simmering the tomatoes with onion, basil and garlic until it reaches a creamy but still a bit chunky texture, and has just the right balance of sweetness and savoury when you taste it.
Once ready, store your sauce in airtight jars in the fridge for up to 1 week, or freeze in small batches for up to 6 weeks.
This classic Italian tomato sauce is one of those basic recipes you need to have in your life. It’s conveniently vegetarian, dairy-free, vegan and gluten-free, and a great base for so many Italian dishes (including my favorite Sicilian eggplant spaghetti sandwiches here below).
Use this traditional Italian tomato sauce as a base for vegetarian or meaty sauces, serve it with meat, vegetarian or fish meatballs, lasagne, spaghetti, or enjoy on its own with whatever pasta you fancy! DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?
Please let me know how you liked it! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #thepetitecook! Looking at your pictures always makes me smile *and super hungry*!
- 1 medium or 2 small red onions
- 2 cans (400gr each) organic whole plum tomatoes
- 1 garlic clove, gently crushed
- a bunch of fresh basil leaves
- 1 bay leave (or a pinch of sugar)
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- sea salt and black pepper to taste
- Cut each whole canned tomato in half, remove seeds and juice, roughly chop into chunks, and set aside. Fill the tomato can with water and set aside.
- Heat a medium sauce pan with 2 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil and the garlic over medium low heat.
- Gently stir-fry the chopped onion and garlic for about 5 minutes. Cook until the onion is translucent and the garlic golden, then add in the tomatoes. Depending on your taste, discard the clove at this stage or when the sauce is cooked.
- Add in a couple of basil leaves., season with salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar (or add a bay leave), and gently stir-fry for a further 5 mins.
- Pour in the water reserved earlier, add in a couple of extra basil leaves, and cover the pan with a lid. Cook over low heat for about 15 min, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper half-way through cooking time.
- The sauce is ready when it reaches a nice creamy but still chunky texture, and has just the right balance of sweetness and savoury when you taste it.
- Use your sauce straight away, or store in airtight glass jars in the fridge for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 6 weeks.