Friday, April 11, 2014

Quick Cook Tomato Sauce

My Italian grandmother, and my mom and aunt made old school, cook all day tomato sauce for pasta when I was growing up.  I really, really intensely disliked it.  I was always forced to try a little bit when we had pasta for dinner, and was told that someday I would like it.  Well, that day never came.  I didn't eat any kind of tomato sauce until my mom started making this recipe for quick cook tomato sauce when I was an adult.  

I always buy San Marzano tomatoes for this recipe.  They can be whole peeled tomatoes, crushed, diced, or pureed.  

After reading some scary things about canned tomatoes and how their acidity can cause BPA to leach into your food, I have been buying San Marzano tomatoes in a carton from Whole Foods.  

My mom's quick cook tomato sauce starts with some sweet onion, the only type of onion I regularly keep in my house.  

When the garlic browns, I add the San Marzano tomatoes.  

In 20 to 30 minutes, this sauce is ready to go.  

My mom's quick cook tomato sauce recipe is easy to make, fresh tasting, and slightly sweet. I really never thought that I would find a tomato sauce that I liked, but this sauce is so delicious!

Quick Cook Tomato Sauce


2 T sweet onion - minced
1 T olive oil
1 clove (1/2 tsp) garlic - minced
26 to 32 ounce can/carton San Marzano tomatoes (whole peeled, crushed, diced, or pureed)
1 T + 1 tsp sugar
kosher salt - to taste
coarse ground black pepper - to taste
1 or 2 T fresh basil - chopped
1 T butter


Saute the onion in olive oil on medium heat in a large fry pan.  When the onion has softened, add the garlic.  Add the tomatoes after the garlic begins to brown.  If you are using whole peeled tomatoes, crush them with your hands as you add them to the pan.

Add the sugar, and a couple of pinches of salt and pepper.  Put a lid on your pan, and cook for 20 to 30 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally.

Before serving, add the basil and butter, and more salt and pepper if needed.  If you used whole peeled tomatoes, you could puree your sauce with a stick blender.

Recipe Notes

I prefer to buy crushed, diced or pureed San Marzano tomatoes for this recipe.

I usually use two pinches of salt, and one pinch of black pepper.

This recipe makes enough sauce for 1 pound of pasta.  Freeze or refrigerate any leftovers.

When my mom makes this sauce, she cooks up several batches and freezes the sauce in gallon-sized freezer bags.

Quick cook tomato sauce is great with pasta and pizza.  You can read about the gluten free pizza we make with Chebe here.

I have also made a creamy tomato sauce for mafalda noodles with this recipe.  Cook the sauce for 20 minutes, then add 1/2 cup of heavy cream.  Continue cooking the sauce uncovered over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  I add a good amount of basil at the end, but do not add any butter when using heavy cream.  I make my mafalda noodles with Cappello's lasagna sheets, which you can read about here.

I use quick cook tomato sauce with several products and recipes on my blog.   Here are some links:

Baked Rigatoni

Deconstructed Beef Ravioli with Penne

Gluten Free Gnocchi


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