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How To Make A Real Italian Tomato Sauce

Sauce recipes are a guarded secret among Italian chefs but since I'm only Italian by marriage, I'll share my technique with you.

Using fresh garden tomatoes for your Italian Red Sauce can give that natural, organic feel.

[photo 1]

Move Over, Canned Tomatoes

You know how to make a primo tomato sauce using canned tomatoes, but now that you have your own garden tomatoes, you want to try a more organic take on the recipe.

Let’s just say the family isn’t as thrilled with your new venture as you anticipated. They say the sauce was too light and couldn’t cling to a noodle if its life depended on it. If your family is a brazen sort like mine, they may dare to voice aloud that it tastes more like salsa.

I like a nice light sauce. It’s fresh, healthy and 100 percent delicious. But my husband is Italian — red sauce is like gravy to him and something he feels should be incorporated into his menu on a daily basis.

This means that I need to kick this garden tomato sauce into shape.

Whipping Tomatoes Into Shape

Cooking with fresh tomatoes versus canned is more labor-intensive.

  • You must peel them. The easiest way to accomplish this is to blanch them. Boil the tomatoes about 30 seconds or until the skins begin to peel away. Then, immerse in ice-water. Next, remove the seeds.
  • Using your thumbs, simply push the pulp and seed down the length of the tomato and into an awaiting dish. (You’re going to want to save those babies for later.)

Saucy Secrets

Now it’s time to cook your peeled, seeded tomatoes.

This is where it gets hazy. Sauce recipes are a guarded secret among Italian chefs but since I’m only Italian by marriage, I’ll share my technique with you.

[photo 2]

Italian Tomato Sauce


  • 2 28 ounce cans of tomatoes (or 3 dozen fresh tomatoes)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 sweet onion
  • 3 to 4 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley (Italian flat)
  • 1 tablespoon oregano (or basil)
  • 1 bay leaf

Cooking Directions

  1. Begin by sautéing your onion until soft, then add your garden garlic and sauté until the fragrance is released. This should be about 30 seconds (any longer and the garlic will taste bitter).
  2. Then quickly add your tomatoes, followed by the herbs of your choice. At this point, I'll slip in a 1/4 cup of red wine.
  3. Bring pot to a boil, then turn down to simmer for several hours.
  4. For thicker sauce, incorporate tomato paste into the mix.

Personal Touches

A trick to sweeten the sauce is to place a freshly peeled carrot in the pot during the simmer process and then remove it before serving. Another option is to skip the sautéed onions and instead submerge a whole, peeled onion in the pot while simmering. Remove the onion prior to serving.

During the last moments before serving, you can add grated Parmesan if it suits you, or butter — both are good.

Just remember: sauces are as unique as family crests, so feel free to experiment until you find the perfect blend for your family. Buon appetito!

Dianne Venetta

Dianne is an author, entrepreneur, and mother. She writes the blog BloominThyme and volunteers as garden coordinator for her children's school garden. At the end of the day, if she can inspire someone to stop and smell the roses (or rosemary), kiss their child and husband goodnight, be kind to a neighbor and Mother Earth, then she's done all right.

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