One of the very first things I ever learned in the kitchen was a basic tomato sauce. It can be used for lots of things like meatballs, lasagna or pizzas. When plum tomatoes are no longer available at the farmers’ market, you don’t have to worry much but try this easy, yet still delicious basic sauce. Using superior-quality canned tomatoes and good olive oil makes all the difference in this recipe. Diced imported Italian tomatoes packed in their natural juices yield a fresher-tasting sauce than one made from tomatoes in heavy puree, which gives the sauce the flavor of tomato paste. Tomato paste adds a concentrated, long-cooked flavor, making the finished sauce taste like it’s been on the stove for well over an hour.

Dried oregano gives the sauce a classic Italian-American flavor, while basil maintains some fresh flavor in the sauce. Canned whole tomatoes tend to be higher quality than canned crushed or pureed tomatoes. This recipe starts off by chopping off some onions, meanwhile, get some olive oil in a nice hot frying pan. Crack open two garlic cloves and we are not going to chop them up but take off the bottoms and then give it a smack with the back of the knife. We are going to put them whole so they impart that wonderful flavor but you dent get that intense garlic taste. Put the onions in the pan and just fry those onions until they are nice and soft and tender. Season right there with some sea salt and black pepper.

Once you’ve got nice tender onions, its time to get in there two tins of chopped tomatoes and throw them in there they will sizzle and bubble and then just give that a quick stir. The next little bit of liquid you are going to add in there is red wine, and if you don’t want to add red wine in there just add a little bit of vegetable stock. Now to season that up, add a little bit of oregano and a little splash of Tabasco, mix that up and let it simmer away. Your basic tomato sauce will be ready in a few and that is a sauce which can be used for a whole lot of things.


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot or 1/2 large carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 small stalk of celery, including the green tops, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil or 2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes, including the juice, or 1 3/4 pound of
  • fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Gently cook the onion, carrot, celery, and parsley: Heat olive oil in a large wide skillet on medium heat.
  2. Add the chopped onion, carrot, celery and parsley. Stir to coat.
  3. Reduce the heat to low, cover the skillet and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are softened and cooked through.
  4. Remove cover and add the minced garlic. Increase the heat to medium-high. Cook for garlic for 30 seconds.
  5. Add the tomatoes, including the juice and shredding them with your fingers if you are using canned whole tomatoes.
  6. Add the tomato paste and the basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Bring to a low simmer, reduce the heat to low and cook, uncovered until thickened, about 15 minutes.