Monday, June 8, 2009

Basic Tomato Sauce

(pictured: close up of cooked tomato sauce)

Tomato sauce is something that every Italian makes. We don’t buy canned tomato sauce, ever! Tomato sauce and pasta are the personification of comfort food for anyone with Italian heritage. I can’t think of any other food that is so universally loved. When I have had a bad day and need a big food hug, this is my meal of choice.

I make many different version of tomato sauce depending on what noodle I want to use. This sauce is my version of a basic tomato sauce that is good with spaghetti or with baked ziti. I like to serve it with broccoli, zucchini, eggplant and/or crimini mushrooms.

This sauce is mostly southern Italian with the olives, fennel seed and crushed red peppers. Nero d'Avola would be the expected wine, since it is Sicilian. However, I don’t always have it in the house, and Amarone works well, too.

This is also a good sauce to add cannellini beans to if you have those in the house and aren’t planning on making bean balls. If you make the cannellini version add a tablespoon or two of fresh minced rosemary, which is classically used with bean dishes in Tuscany.

Cooked tomatoes contain lycopene, which has been associated with a reduction in most forms of cancer. Dr. Mehmet Oz recommended consuming the equivalent of 10 tablespoons of tomato sauce each week in his book, You the Owners Manual. That is not a problem if you like southern Italian cuisine like we do.

Basic Tomato Sauce (aka Tomato Gravy)
makes 9 1/2 cups


45 ounces of canned diced tomatoes
15 ounces of canned tomato sauce
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
2 cups of red wine to clean tomato cans (I use Amarone or Nero d'Avola)
2 red onions, minced
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
½ teaspoon of fennel seed, toasted
¼ - ½ teaspoon of crushed red peppers (I use ½ a teaspoon but I like a spicy sauce)
12 kalamata olives, minced
¼ cup of red pepper, finely diced
12 roasted garlic cloves, minced


Put everything in the slow cooker and cook on high for at least 4 hours or on low for at least 8 hours.

After the sauce has cooked check for seasonings and serve with pasta and bean balls if you have them.

Nutritional Information per ¾ cup serving:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 84.31
Calories From Fat (17%) - 14.5

Total Fat - 1.64g
Saturated Fat - 0.1g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 406.28mg
Potassium - 440.02mg
Total Carbohydrates - 10.11g
Fiber - 2.33g
Sugar - 4.7g
Protein - 1.89g


If you like your sauce smooth, you can use your blender to puree the sauce before adding the additional vegetables. I prefer my sauce to have chunks. This sauce has a rich tomato flavor that is punctuated with heat from the peppers. There is a light fennel and olive flavor in the background.

1 comment:

  1. This sauce has a great balance of texture and herb flavor goodness.


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