derryX’s basic tomato sauce

I thought it would be fun to run through my preparation of basic tomato sauce, especially since was integral to my latest cooking demo at The Cooks Resource.

Everyone has their own way to do it, and there are a lot of ways to get a great sauce, but this is my quick way to get a great all purpose tomato sauce that can be used for pasta, pizza, and in pretty much every “alla parmigiana” dish.


For mine, I use a small onion (diced small), a chopped garlic clove, a cup of dry white wine, and a 28 oz of plum tomatoes (which I crush myself) or crushed tomatoes. If you start with crushed tomatoes, you’ll have a fairly smooth sauce; if you start with whole tomatoes and crush them yourself, it’ll be chunkier. Make it your own!

I start by heating 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pot and by sauteing the onions and garlic over medium heat. This goes for like 8-10 minutes until the onions start to pick up a little color (but not too much).

Sauteed onions

I add the wine, increase the heat, and let it reduce by about half. Then I add the tomatoes, a little more than half a cup of water, and a teaspoon of sugar (sugar is optional, but sometimes the canned tomatoes need a little help).

Tomato sauce cooking

Once it comes back to the boil, I reduce the heat to medium-low and let the sauce cook for about 20-30 minutes. Over the course of the cooking, you’ll notice the tomatoes go from having a purple hue to becoming bright red or orange. That’s your visual indicator that you have tomato sauce.

At the end, I’ll add salt. That’s the opposite of what I usually say about layering the seasoning, but I’ve found that salting at the beginning actually screws up the texture at the end.

Once the sauce is done, you can add it to some browned sausage and meatballs to make a great “Sunday gravy”, as a lot of Italian-Americans like to say. If I’m using the sauce for pizza, I’ll reduce the amount of water I use (or cook it for an extra 10 minutes to reduce).

And that’s it!


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