With this extremely useful tomato pasta sauce in your kitchen, you are never far from a quick meal. It is great simply stirred through pasta, and even doubles as pizza sauce in a pinch. Once you have made one batch, you will wonder how you ever did without it.
Total Time Investment: 5 hours 10 minutes
Once upon a time, my pantry cupboard was filled with jars and packages of convenience foods that only required the addition of meat (never vegetables) to make a ‘complete’ meal. And my favourite jar by far was the tomato pasta sauce. That jar didn’t require anything else to be added to it, and so as long as I had pasta in the cupboard and a green container of dried Parmesan (shudder) dinner was sorted.
Somewhere along the line I learnt to cook, and whilst I no longer rely on convenience foods to put a meal on the table, I still need a few tricks up my sleeve to cope with those nights when life gets a little bit busy. Homemade tomato pasta sauce is one such short-cut I employ for a speedy but delicious meal.
My friend Janice gave me this recipe a few years ago now. Or should I say, she gave me half a recipe. Janice has a way of telling me a recipe, leaving out a few crucial ingredients or cooking steps, then filling in the missing pieces at a later date. After making her meatball recipe for years, I discovered that she crumbs her meatballs prior to cooking. A little detail she left out when originally imparting her recipe. So in no way is this version a slavish recreation of her original tomato pasta sauce recipe, as I have no idea what the original recipe is. The sauce itself is so useful, however, that I always try to have some in the house.
This recipe makes a lot of tomato pasta sauce; I can get eight meals out of one batch. And I will admit that it takes a decent amount of time to cook, a good four to five hours, however for most of the time you can get on with other things whilst the sauce slowly simmers on the stove. Make this recipe one weekend when you have no plans to go out, and by the end of the day you will have a large pot of glorious sauce, and that smug feeling of knowing you have a few meals in the bank.
I use a large 2.5kg tin of tomatoes purchased from my local Italian deli to make this sauce, but just buy the biggest tins you can find. You will need at least six of the standard tomato tins to make this recipe.
Tomato passata is also called tomato sauce or tomato puree in different parts of the world. Use a sauce that contains only tomatoes, and maybe onion and herbs. Any tomato sauce made with vinegar cannot be substituted in this recipe.
The alcohol in the white wine will cook out during the cooking process. If you don’t wish to use it, just leave it out. No substitution is necessary. Red wine can readily be used in place of the white wine.A Really Useful Tomato #Pasta #Sauce #Recipe. Make & #freeze a batch for speedy meals. Click To Tweet
Preserving Tomato Pasta Sauce
Unless you have a really large family, with many ravenous teenagers, you will need to put aside some of this large batch of tomato pasta sauce for other meals. I prefer to can (bottle) my sauce using standard canning practices, as this frees up valuable freezer space. I have kept the sauce on the shelf for over twelve months using this method.
If canning is not your thing, freeze the sauce in meal size portions. Spoon meal size portions (I recommend 2 cup portions) of the sauce into zip lock bags, and place the bags flat on a baking sheet in the freezer. Allow them to freeze solid before moving them within the freezer for better storage. Defrost the sauce overnight in the fridge, or rapidly defrost the sauce by sitting the bag in a sink full of warm (not hot) water.
Using Your Tomato Pasta Sauce
Your large batch of homemade tomato pasta sauce can be used in so many different ways to put together a speedy dinner. At its simplest, I stir the sauce through freshly cooked pasta for a quick dinner. Use the sauce for baked Italian meatballs, or stir it through cooked gnocchi for a quick gnocchi bake.
Top chicken schnitzels with pasta sauce and cheese for a quick chicken parmigiana, or spread the sauce over pizza bases if you are out of pizza sauce. The sauce also makes a great pre-made base for easy slow cooker meals. Add some meat and a few vegetables, put on the lid and walk away.
With a batch of my tomato pasta sauce in your kitchen, you are never far from a quick meal. Best of all you know exactly what is in it. Unlike that store-bought jar.
A Really Useful Tomato Pasta Sauce
- 180 ml (3/4 cup) olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 2 large onions chopped
- 3 large stalks celery chopped
- 1 x 2500g (88oz) tin whole peeled plum tomatoes
- 2 x 750ml (24 oz) bottles tomato passata
- 250 ml (1 cup) white wine
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 3 Tablespoons chopped parsley
- Salt & black pepper
- Heat the oil in a large pot, then add the garlic, onion and celery.
- Saute the vegetables over a low - medium heat for about 15 minutes, until the vegetables have softened. Do not allow them to brown.
- Add the remainder of the ingredients and bring the pot to the boil.
- Reduce the heat to low.
- Simmer the sauce for four to five hours, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has reduced and thickened. I crush the whole tomatoes into the sauce after it has been simmering for about two to three hours.
- Allow the sauce to cool, then divide into meal size portions. I recommend dividing the sauce into 2 cup portions.
- Either freeze or can according to your preference.
I use one of those really large tins (2.5kg size) of tomatoes in this sauce. I purchase mine from my local Italian deli. If you cannot locate this size tin, substitute 3 x 800ml tins of tomatoes instead.
I know it looks like a large amount of olive oil, but trust me. You are not cooking a single meal (unless you have an extremely hungry family) so this amount of oil is necessary to saute all of the vegetables.
I can (bottle) this sauce in 500ml bottles, using standard canning practices.
You can also freeze this sauce in containers or zip lock bags.
* This post was originally published in 2014. It has been substantially updated from the original.