Smarter Living: Recipes

tomato sauce

photo: Aelle/Flickr

Try out this easy homemade alternative to store-bought tomato sauce for your next pasta dish!

Yields approximately 1 quart


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 rib celery, diced
  • 1 tsp fennel seed
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6-7 large ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil (or 1 tsp dried basil)
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh oregano (or 1 tsp dried oregano)
  • salt, freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of crush red pepper


  1. Gently heat the olive oil in a large pot. (Don’t let the olive oil start to smoke, it will be too hot and burn the onions and garlic.)
  2. Add the onions, celery and fennel seed and sauté gently until the onions are translucent.
  3. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. (Do not allow the garlic to brown, it easily develops an unpleasant burnt flavor.)
  4. Add the tomatoes and the dried herbs. (If you are using fresh herbs always add them in closer to the end of cooking their flavor is more delicate.)
  5. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste and cook until the tomatoes are completely broken down (approximately 45 minutes).
  6. When finished cooking, pour it into another container to cool it down.
  7. Once it is cool, place it in freezer bags and freeze. You can lay the sealed bags on a cookie sheet so that they freeze flat.
  8. Once they are frozen, remove them from the pan and they will stay flat and fit in your freezer more efficiently. Don’t forget to label the bags with the date that the sauce was made so that you know how long it has been in the freezer.

You can make an endless number of variations of this sauce using different herbs and seasonings. If you don't have the time to make sauce now, you can dice raw tomatoes and freeze them. Later in the year, you can thaw them to make tomato sauce or add to soups and stews. It is less expensive to freeze them now and the flavor is far superior to tomatoes that you can buy during the winter months.

last revised 8/9/2011

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