Homemade tomato sauce

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September 2, 2012 by twodogjam

I’m not Italian, but my tomato sauce could be! The secret is to use Italian ingredients: tin tomatoes, tomato passata and/or tomato puree if you can. Make a big batch and freeze in smaller portions to add to cooked pasta or top a pizza for a quick meal with a real Italian flavour.


  • One brown onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup of vodka (for the frying pan, not your glass!)
  • 2 tins of whole tomatoes
  • 1 cup of bought tomato passata (optional) OR ¼ cup of good quality (Italian) tomato paste
  • a handful of basil leaves, chopped (or use a portion from the freezer)
  • splash of good quality balsamic vinegar (Italian again). About 2 tbspns but vary to your taste
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil

Frying onions

Heat the pan (stainless steel rather than teflon coated) on the stove top and when hot, add enough extra virgin oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. Straight away add the onions and garlic and move around to stop burning or sticking to the bottom. Lower the heat so the garlic and onions don’t cook too fast. Keep moving around with a wooden spoon or spatula and cook for about 5 minutes until onions are translucent.

Turn the heat up, and straight away add the vodka to the pan. It will sizzle and steam but the vodka will evaporate. Keep stirring the onions and garlic until all the vodka has gone (will only take a couple of minutes). The vodka also helps to clean the pan: if you have any brown onion bits stuck to the bottom of the pan, just use your wooden spoon to lift off and stir into the onion and garlic mix. Saves on cleaning later!

Tomato sauceSimmering tomato sauce

Next, add the tinned tomatoes (remember to swirl a little water in each tin when emptied to get all the tomato juice out, and add to the pan). Keep the tomatoes whole in the pan. Add the remaining ingredients: tomato passata/paste, basil, balsamic vinegar and black pepper to taste. Gently stir so that well mixed. Turn the heat right down and simmer gently for about one hour, checking ever so often and gently stirring so doesn’t catch on the bottom.

After simmering for about an hour, the sauce should now be thick. Mash the whole tomatoes if they haven’t already broken down and stir into the thicken sauce. Taste and add more black pepper or salt if needed (I don’t usually add any salt as I usually find that when you add this sauce to other dishes, the seasoning is OK). If it’s still a bit runny, continue to gently simmer until thickened up. You know it’s ready when it’s ‘glistening’.

When cooled down, freeze the sauce in smaller portions or add a couple of spoonfuls to freshly cooked pasta.

Thick tomato sauce


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