Tomato sauces can be easy or extremely complicated depending on how much time and effort you are willing to spend. This recipe combines the best of both by utilizing shortcuts to pack in depth of flavor without spending hours simmering the sauce on the stove. The basic ingredients will build the base of the sauce, and from there you can expand further to make it more flavorful based on your taste.
You can always stick with a store bought sauce, but for a fraction of the cost, and without all the additives and tons of sugar they put in.
If you have fresh tomatoes that you would like to use, toss them in a little bit of oil and roast them on a cookie sheet for 15-20 minutes in the oven at 400 degrees. Then use them as you would the canned version below.
Canned Whole Tomatoes or Tomato Sauce - look for sauce with nothing but pureed tomato as the ingredients or basic ingredients like salt, basil, garlic. If you can get your hands on San Marzano tomatoes, they are the best for pizza and sauces (they can be pricey).
1 Tsp italian seasoning
1 Tbsp olive oil or neutral oil
1 Tsp salt
1 Tsp pepper
1 tiny pinch of sugar if the sauce tastes too acidic/bitter
Optional based on your taste (quantity is per can of tomatoes/sauce):
2-3 cloves of fresh garlic chopped, sliced thin, or pressed - or 1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 small onion diced
3-4 basil leaves cut into thin strips
1/4 cup red wine
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tsp red pepper flakes
Lets get cooking
1. Pour the olive oil, onion, and garlic into a saucepan on medium low. If you are using red pepper flakes, add those now. Let them slowly warm up and keep stirring, you don't want the garlic to burn or brown at all. Let them cook for 3-5 minutes to allow them to release their flavors into the oil. Once you start smelling the garlic release its intoxicating fragrance, move to the next step.
Optional step: Add the tomato paste and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
2. If the tomatoes are whole, you can either put all of the ingredients in a blender, or use an immersion blender to blend it all together for a really smooth sauce. Add the italian seasoning here as well and/or garlic powder if you are not using fresh garlic.
Parent Tip!! If you have kids that struggle to eat their veggies: This is your chance to put a serving of veggies (such as mixed vegetables ie corn, green beans, carrots) into their meal. Grab a handful of mixed frozen veggies, and cook them through so they are warm. You can combine this step while cooking the garlic also. Mix it with the other ingredients in the blender and your kids will not know the difference, and the sauce still tastes really good!
3. Pour the tomato puree back into the saucepan and keep on medium low. Once the sauce starts bubbling, you can add the optional wine. Cover with a lid and turn the heat to low/simmer and let it cook for at least 5 minutes, the sweet spot being 15 minutes.
4. Add any fresh herbs like the basil at the very end for the freshest flavor.