Italian Style Tomato Sauce (For Pizza/Pasta/Lasagna etc)
When life gives you lemon, make lemonade and when there is an abundant supply of tomato, make Tomato Puree (method shared last week) and tomato sauce! I am a big supporter of making things from scratch at home when possible simply because in my mind I am convinced that it will always be better than any boxed item. How? Well, first of all you know what is actually in it as you decide what to add, secondly, it will be according to your family preferences like seasoning and spice level and if there is any special dietary requirement (like low sodium, low sugar, low fat, gluten free lactose free, nut free etc), you get to manage it and thirdly, it will be free from any preservatives or additives or color or coded numbers and alphabets that keep you guessing and wondering what exactly are they?!
Most recipes of Italian tomato sauce that you see online use canned tomatoes or fresh tomatoes which is totally fine. There are different sauces which are cooked with different ingredients and for different length of time which of course impact the yield product. For this particular recipe, I use tomato puree to avoid as much tomato skin and seeds as possible (due to certain reasons) plus it gives more depth and flavor to the sauce in my opinion. Check out this Pizza Sauce for another variation of tomato sauce.
Tomato sauce for pasta varies according to the recipe like it will be cooked along with a variety of vegetables and meat (chicken or minced beef etc), meat balls for instance, and the sauce gets additional flavors from the meat and vegetables.
Tomato sauce for pizza could be slightly chunkier and needs to have a little bolder flavor so it can both compliment and stand out through the flavors of dough, pizza toppings and cheese.
Tomato sauce for lasagna is pretty much like pizza sauce as there are other ingredients involved too, slightly thinner as it needs to get baked for a fair amount of time.
Just like any regular Italian tomato sauce, this one has olive oil to add flavor and shine to the sauce, onion to balance out tangy tomato flavor, garlic to deepen the flavor and aroma, dried herbs to give the sauce its signature taste and smell where as tomato puree is the dominant ingredient and base of the sauce. If you prefer chunkier texture feel free to use blended whole tomatoes and reduce the water content by cooking over medium low flame to achieve desired consistency. I use this tomato puree for the sauce.
Italian Style Tomato Sauce
A versatile sauce for pasta/pizza/lasagna that is sure to shine through.
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 4-5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 cups tomato puree
- ⅛ tsp dried thyme
- ⅛ tsp dried oregano
- ¼ tsp dried basil
- ¾ tsp salt
- 1tsp tsp caster sugar
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp red chilli flakes,optional
In a non reactive, heavy bottom sauce pan combine olive oil, chopped garlic and chopped onion together. (Do not heat olive oil before adding garlic and onion)
Place over medium flame and cook for about 20-30 seconds or till garlic is fragrant. Keep stirring.
Lower the heat and cook for another 20-30 seconds or till onions are slightly softened. Keep stirring and don't let garlic burn.
Pour in tomato puree and give a quick stir.
Add dried thyme, oregano, basil, salt, sugar, pepper and chilli flakes (if using). Stir and cover the pot.
Let it cook over low heat for about 20 minutes. Keep stirring at regular intervals.
If sauce gets too thick add a little water and if its consistency is thinner than required, cook for few more minutes.
When done, check and adjust seasoning as per liking.
Remove from heat when done. Cover the pot and bring to room temperature.
Sauce will taste best the next because flavors will get better infused.
Use as required or store in airtight containers and refrigerate for up to 3-4 days. For longer storage, use ziplock bags and freeze.
- Do not heat olive oil without garlic and onion. It will burn quickly and its flavor will be affected.
- Season and adjust as you like. If you like to up the spice level, go ahead and add chilli flakes and if you prefer a milder version, you can skip chilli flakes.
- If sauce is too tangy add another 1/2 tsp of sugar or blend a small onion with some water and add to the sauce.
- Dried herbs are stronger in taste than fresh ones so be careful while adding them.
- Sauce develops deeper flavor when it gets cooked for longer time.
- Be sure to use non reactive pans for best taste and color.
- It can be used as soon as it is ready. It will taste better when rested a day as flavors will get more time to infuse and enhance the flavor.