Everyone has a list of foods they’ll absolutely, positively make homemade and others they’ll consistently buy. When it comes to tomato sauce, I’m of the “absolutely, positively homemade” camp. But after asking around, I’ve realized the art of making your own sauce is lost on most of my friends.
Although I’ve tried many store-bought sauces, I still like my version best; it’s super basic and doesn’t have any wild-card ingredients like red wine or anchovies. Once it’s simmered to sweet perfection, I’ll scoop out a custard cup’s worth of sauce and just eat it with a spoon. It’s absolutely soul-soothing, especially on these cold fall nights.
Some kitchen how-to for any pasta recipe: Always finish your noodles in your sauce instead of combining the two in a serving dish. The starchiness of the noodles helps to coat the strands evenly with sauce. (This is also the reason why you should never put oil in your pasta water—it prevents this coating from happening.)
For the calorie cutters (now’s the time, holidays are right around the corner!), try spaghetti squash. Here’s a step-by-step guide from my blog.
Simply Perfect Tomato Sauce
Makes six cups (serves six to eight)
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, diced small
2-3 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 c. tomato paste
2 (24 oz) cans whole tomatoes
1 (24 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1. Heat butter and olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat for several minutes (so that butter melts).
2. Add onion and sauté for 5-8 minutes or until softened and translucent.
3. Stir in garlic, red pepper flakes, oregano and salt. Sauté until garlic is fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
4. Add tomato paste and stir to combine – let cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes.
5. Dump tomatoes into a bowl and break up tomatoes with hands so that none remain intact. Add tomatoes to pot and stir well.
6. Cover tomatoes with lid and when bubbles break the surface, reduce heat to very lowest setting. Set lid askew on top of pot and let sauce simmer for about one hour, stirring occasionally. When you stir, make sure to scrape the bottom of the pot with your spoon, making sure it doesn’t “stick”.
7. For a smoother sauce (that’s the way I like mine), puree with a stick blender or in a regular blender. If using a regular blender, transfer in batches. Return to low heat and let gently simmer until ready to eat.
8. Cook noodles to recommended time on package and strain. Immediately dump noodles into sauce and toss together; let cook one to two minutes before serving, topped generously with torn basil and freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Per one-cup serving: 179 calories, 9 fat grams (including 3 grams saturated fat), 10 milligrams cholesterol, 655 milligrams sodium, 22 grams carbs, 7 grams dietary fiber, 14 grams sugar, 6 grams protein.
Becca Boyd is a wife and mom who creates healthy and delicious recipes in her West Chester kitchen. She blogs about them on her website, Home Beccanomics.