Basic Tomato Sauce for Pasta


It’s harvest time, and even if you haven’t grown tomatoes this summer, you can still make this delicious basic tomato sauce that will wow your taste buds. It’s good. Really good.


This is a slightly tweaked version of Marcella Hazan’s Basic Italian Tomato Sauce. I like spicy, so I’ve included black pepper, cayenne pepper, and a bit more butter added at the end to thicken and gloss the sauce. I also didn’t have enough home-grown tomatoes, so I bought some and pumped up the volume with a 400g tin of whole peeled tomatoes.

The amount of butter is a bit sinful, but it’s not worth the effort if you reduce it or substitute it. It adds a gorgeous sheen and richness.

Rich Red Tomato Sauce

2 pounds of fresh tomatoes, seeded and skinned (or 2x400g tins chopped tomatoes)
8 tablespoons cold butter, cubed (5T to start and 3T stirred in at the end)
1 large onion, peeled and cut in half diagonally
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Flaked sea salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano

If using fresh tomatoes, pop them whole on a baking sheet into the freezer and allow them to freeze hard. Remove and thaw. The skins will slide right off, and you can squeeze out the seeds and excess juice easily into a strainer. Keep the strained juice for soup stock. Chop the tomatoes into chunks (remove core and stem), and place them in a heavy-bottom, oven-safe pan with the salt, pepper and cayenne. Stir well. Add the onion cut into 2 equal halves, and 5 tablespoons of cubed butter. Bring to a slow simmer on the cooker, and then place the pot uncovered in the oven at a low temperature (approximately 150C/300F/G2) that maintains the simmer for 1 hour, stirring once every half hour. If the tomato chunks are still firm, continue cooking another 30-45 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. If a smooth sauce is required, use a hand-blender (stick-blender). I usually press any solids against the back of a spoon, keeping some of the chunks intact for use as a pasta sauce. Serve with shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. dianadomino says:

    I’ve never used butter in my sauce, but I’ve always added about a teaspoon of brown sugar (to take out any bitterness).

    I will have to try this!

    1. Misky says:

      Butter thickens and makes the flavour richer. It’s nice. 🙂

  2. Misky, I’m going to try to bit of butter. Actually, when I do a meat sauce, I brown the meat in butter, because it gives the meat that crispy thing.

    My Italian husband says I make better sauce that his mom, but I am sworn to secrecy, because if she found out, he’d never live it down. The Irish girl makes the best sauce, ha ha ha… Loved this, and thx for sharing your secrets! Amy

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