Easy, Scratch Tomato Sauce: Impossible to Mess Up!

The other night, my fiance and I were throwing around dinner ideas, against the backdrop of “it’s late,” and “I’m kinda tired”.  So we agreed on the nice package of CostCo. ravioli in the freezer (don’t judge me: we all want to eat something easy every now and then).  I went to the cupboard for the jar of Newman’s tomato sauce I was sure we had, and… no.  We did not.

Our shopping day was to be the next day, so we were a bit low in on-hand ingredients.  But once I brought it back (in my own head) to the simple, I realized I had all the ingredients for a solid tomato sauce, made from scratch, in my kitchen.  And I’d bet that if you cook somewhat regularly, you do too.

To make scratch tomato sauce, you’ll need:

  • a can (12-oz) of diced tomatoes (probably “in juice” but it doesn’t matter either way)
  • half a small yellow onion (small-diced)
  • two large cloves (or three medium) garlic, smashed and rough-chopped
  • half a cup red cooking wine
  • 1tbsp. dried oregano
  • 1tsp. each: dried thyme & red chili flakes.

Follow these steps:

First puree about 2/3 of the canned tomatoes.  Set the remaining 1/3 aside for later.

In the meantime, bring a medium saucepan to medium heat, and sweat the onions in a bit of olive oil.  After stirring with a spoon or spatula for 3-4 minutes.  Add the garlic, stir for about thirty seconds, and then add the wine.

Wait until the level of the wine is reduced to just below the crown of the onions.  This is when you add the tomato puree and the diced tomatoes.

*At this point, feel free to add diced fresh seasonal tomatoes at your discretion.

Now, add your dried herbs/spices, as well as any additional salt and/or pepper you may prefer.

Reduce this down to your preferred consistency, being sure to stir down to the bottom with a wooden spoon every 3-4 minutes.

Expert note:

It’s been brought to my attention that many home cooks are inclined to add some sort of sweetener or sugar to their tomato sauce.  I have deduced that this is to combat the acidity that is naturally present in both fresh and canned tomatoes.  I urge you to put the sugar spoon down, and just let your sauce simmer, with the appropriate amount of stirring to keep it from burning on the bottom.  Applied heat can, and almost always will, begin to eliminate acidity from both acidic produce and both alcohols and vinegars.  A little patience will allow the natural sweetness of the tomatoes, garlic and onions that make a traditional rustic tomato sauce to truly shine.

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