Basic tomato sauce

I always found tomato sauces a bit bland and, well, simple and uninteresting. Specially those sauces in classic italian-american restaurants that tend to be over seasoned and powerful. But then, I learned better. There are a few tricks of the trade in making an excellent tomato sauce. I will share these with you. Consider yourself lucky.

First, a tomato sauce should always cook uncovered. It is essential in making a tasty sauce. Covering a tomato-based sauce will create condensation and it will dilute the flavors. You will undoubtedly taste the difference in the final product. Never, never cook a tomato sauce covered. Or any pasta sauce for that matter.

Second, never add sugar to a tomato sauce. Yes, tomatoes can sometimes be a bit acidic and sugar counterbalances that, blah, blah, blah. If you find your sauce too acidic, then add natural sugar to it like the natural sugars found in carrots. If grated, they will blend well with the final product.

Third, work with good quality tomatoes. I use canned whole tomatoes because in Canada, you almost never get ripe, delicious fruits and using fresh usually falls short except for a week or two in the fall. Use a brand you like. San Marzano are probably overrated and you don’t need to spend that much money. I find that tomato sauces or purees are too strong and powerful, I prefer using whole tomatoes that I will purée later. This will give you a lighter tasting and looking pasta sauce, orangish in color.

Lastly, add olive oil only at the end of cooking to preserve all the fruitiness of its taste. Using olive oil from the beginning will kill the taste and you will have to add some at the end anyways. This could not be a simpler recipe.


1 28 oz can of whole tomatoes
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, halved
1/2 carrot, grated
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup to 1/3 cup fruity olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Put the tomatoes, onion, garlic, carrot and bay leaf in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes, uncovered. Let it cool for a few minutes.
2. Remove the bay leaf and transfer to a blender. Add the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Puree for one or two minutes until smooth.
3. Your sauce is ready to mix with the pasta of your choice.
4. Toss with your favorite pasta, add lots of parmesan cheese and serve immediately.


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