During the cold weather months, I love making this tomato sauce recipe. It makes the house smell amazing and I love to enjoy a glass of red wine with this pasta sauce over a pappardelle or bucatini. Homemade pizza is always off to a good start when this Italian tomato sauce is part of the recipe.
In the summer when tomato harvest is overflowing, I use them to make a quick summer sauce with fresh tomatoes. We froze quite a few batches of summer sauce this year and enjoyed it through December. Once the sauce from the summer tomatoes is gone, it's time to make our winter sauce. In fact, cooking sauce and soup might be my favorite part of the cold winter months. I am a summer kid through and through but for me, winter's most redeeming quality is cozy cooking.
My husband has developed this wonderful recipe over the years and it makes his Italian grandmother proud. The most important element of this recipe, after the tomatoes, is time. We have found that the more patient we are with each step the better the flavor. While most of my recipes are made for a quick turnaround, I make time for this winter tomato sauce. We make a large batch of it when we know we will be hanging out at the house for a few hours. Then we freeze a few batches for a quick no-fuss meal in the future. When we are short on time we have pizza sauce and spaghetti sauce ready to use.
- Canned tomatoes- my husband insists we get San Marzano dice tomatoes. Apparently, they are "the best tomatoes"- And since he is rarely as fussy about food as me- plus he has an Italian heritage- so that is what we get.
- Fresh Herbs- I prefer fresh herbs but if you can't find Fresh basil and oregano you can use 2 teaspoons of each dry herb.
- Red Pepper Flacks- The recipe card below calls for ½ teaspoon which will give the sauce a subtle warmth, but if you like your sauce with a kick add some more.
- Onions- the slowly cooked onions might be the most important element.
- Garlic- 12 cloves is a lot of garlic but because the sauce simmers for so long the final flavor is mellow and sweet.
- Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper- I really think fresh ground pepper is a much!
Easy Recipe Instructions-
In a large stockpot or dutch oven heat up the olive oil on medium-low heat. Add the chopped onions with 1 teaspoon of salt, stirring them around to coat them with the oil.
Lower the heat to low (2-3 on the stovetop). Let the onions cook for 40-50 minutes on low, occasionally stirring. I know it is a long time but it's worth it! The onions should soften and smell great, but you are not trying to brown them. Add the garlic and cook on low for another 10 minutes.
Next, add all the other ingredients (diced tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, fresh ground pepper, oregano, basil leaves, water, and another teaspoon of salt). Gently stir until fully combined.
Bring the sauce up to a gentle boil on medium-high heat and then lower it to medium-low (3-4 on the stovetop) to simmer for ~2 hours stirring occasionally.
Taste the sauce and add more salt if needed.
If the sauce becomes thicker than you desire add a ½-1 cup of water a cook for another 20 minutes. If you like a thick sauce leave it as is.
Tips, Tricks and Alterations-
- If you only have whole canned tomatoes- place them in a large bowl and use a wooden spoon or potato masher to crush them up or use a sharp knife to slice through them.
- You do not want the sauce to come to a rolling boil- it will burn the sugars in the sauce and make it taste bitter.
- I like a slightly chunky sauce but if you prefer a smooth sauce you can use an immersion blender to get the desired consistency
- Taste as you cook- I think is key to keep tasting as you cook a sauce (or soup). Does it need more salt or spice? This recipe is really great but know that spices can lose their flavor if they have been in your pantry for years.
- Take your time with the onions!!! this is where the magic happens!!
Make the Large Batch-
Making large-batch meals is a simple way to have a healthy flavorful meal every night of the week- even if you have no energy and less time. If you can find 10 minutes to microwave some sauce and boil pasta you can enjoy a meal that tastes like your Italian grandmother spent all day in the kitchen lovingly cooking for you. Love your future self and make a big batch of sauce!
You can refrigerate for up to a week in an air-tight container. For long-term storage, let the sauce come to room temperature and place it in a freezer-safe tupperware.
We Freeze and it works great! I have not ventured into canning my tomato sauce. We don't have a pressure canner and processing time seems a little intimidating with three small kids running through the kitchen. While I definitely see a future me lining my pantry shelves with glass jars of home-canned tomato sauce, for now, this busy momma has found that a freezer is the easiest way to store our sauce.
Yes! Don't overfill the jar- leave this 1 inch of space. Let the sauce completely cool before placing it in the freezer. To downside is that you have to make sure to thaw the glass quart jar the day before you want to use it. Because the jar is made of glass you don't want to rush it- hot water on frozen glass with break.
Yes, allow your sauce to completely cool before packing it in the ziploc bag. For space efficiency, freeze the bag flat on a baking sheet- once frozen you can stack the bags easily.
How to use Homemade Tomato Sauce
Beyond the obvious, Homemade pizzas and over noodles. Try pairing this sauce with creamy polenta or roasted parmesan cauliflower stakes. With Polental stuffed pepper or my husband's favorite Lentil stuffed peppers.
If you’ve tried this Homemade Tomato Sauce for Winter or any other recipe on BalancingBowls, please let me know how it turned out in the comments below! You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest to see more tasty meals and anything else I’m up to.
Homemade Tomato Sauce for Winter
- 1 large pot or dutch oven
- 2 onions diced
- 12 cloves of garlic pressed
- 3 sprigs of fresh oregano or dry
- 2 sprigs of fresh basil or dry
- 3-6 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 28 oz cans of San Marzano Whole Peeled Tomatoes
- 2 8 oz cans of tomato paste
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flacks
- 2 teaspoon dry oregano if not using fresh
- 2 cups water
- In a large pot or dutch oven heat up the olive oil on medium-low heat. Add the chopped onions stirring them around to coat them with the oil. Lower the heat to low (2-3 on the stovetop). Let the onions cook for 40-50 minutes on low, occasional stirring. The onions should soften and smell great, but you are not trying to brown them. Add the garlic and cook on low for another 10 minutes.
- Next, add all the other ingredients (diced tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, fresh ground pepper, oregano, basil, and water). Bring the sauce up to a boil on medium-high and then lower it to medium-low (3-4 on the stovetop) to simmer for ~2 hours stirring occasionally.
- If the sauce becomes thicker than you desire add a ½-1 cup of water a cook for another 20 minutes.