September 8, 2014

Fresh Tomato Sauce

Roma tomatoes are the base for this easy 7-ingredient fresh tomato sauce. Serve it with your favorite pasta shape from spaghetti to fusilli.

Roma tomatoes are the base for this easy 7-ingredient fresh tomato sauce. Serve it with your favorite pasta shape from spaghetti to fusilli.

Fresh Tomato Sauce

My pantry is never without canned tomatoes. Whole, diced or crushed, they are a constant staple.

Canned tomatoes are the base for so many soups, like Tuscan ribollita and roasted tomato. They are also handy for three-bean chili.

A few years ago I spent an entire September weekend canning 20 pounds of Roma tomatoes from the farmer’s market.

With tomato season in its last weeks, I was doing everything I could to hold on to summer.

It was quite an undertaking peeling, deseeding, crushing and canning over a hot stove during a muggy couple days.

Fresh Tomato Sauce

I admit that all that work seemed worth it when I first popped open a homemade jar of tomatoes on a frigid winter evening in January.

Since I can’t add more hours to the day or days to the week, having a stash of homemade canned tomatoes is just not realistic. With baby, blog and everything else, I can’t devote an entire weekend to canning.

Also, there is absolutely nothing wrong with store-bought canned tomatoes! They are full of flavor and incredibly versatile in all sorts of dishes.

I had this realization that I rarely make fresh tomato sauce during tomato season. Tomatoes are either left raw in salads like a caprese, or I slow-roast them.

It was time to change that, so ever since, I make sure to whip up batches of tomato sauce with Roman tomatoes a few times every summer.

I’m excited to share this simple recipe because it’s great to know how to make tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes.

Fresh Tomato Sauce

The Ingredients

  • Roma tomatoes: Certain tomato varieties are good for sauces because of their size and the amount of seeds and tomato flesh.
  • Onions: I roughly chop a white onion and sauté it until it’s soft. This helps the onions blend right in.
  • Garlic: Two plump garlic cloves are what I use in the sauce. I am always tempted to add more because I love garlic.
  • Olive oil: I sauté the onions in olive oil.
  • Red pepper flakes: A little more than a pinch of red pepper flakes gives the sauce a subtle kick.
  • Salt & pepper: Even though you season the sauce as it’s cooking, taste it to see if you need to add more salt & pepper when the sauce is almost ready.

How To Peel Tomatoes

For this recipe, the first thing you need to do is peel the tomatoes. The easiest way to do this is to score the bottoms of the tomatoes with a paring knife.

Then dunk them into boiling water for a minute or so. You will see the skin start to peel on its own. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the tomatoes to a large bowl of ice water.

Then peel off the skin from the tomatoes and cut them in half to remove the seeds. After that, chop the tomatoes.

How To Make Fresh Tomato Sauce

With the tomatoes prepped, I heat olive oil in a large skillet and sauté the onions. Once they are soft and translucent, I stir in the tomatoes, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.

Then I simmer the tomato mixture until it thickens. The tomatoes will fall apart. I do use a potato masher to crush them into a chunky sauce.

How To Use Fresh Tomato Sauce

Fresh tomato sauce is lighter in color and more delicate in flavor than one made from canned tomatoes

Pasta is the most obvious way to eat this sauce. You can use any shape.

It’s also great for pizza. The sauce in this recipe turns out chunky. If you prefer smooth sauce for pizza or pasta, puree it in a food processor or blender.

Can You Freeze Fresh Tomato Sauce?

Yes, this sauce can be stored in the freezer.

I like to freeze it in individual serving sizes, so then I am just thawing the exact amount that I need for a meal rather than thawing a big quantity. Or you’ll end up eating the same thing for days, but maybe that’s not so bad especially when it involves fresh tomatoes!

Fresh Tomato Sauce

Fresh Tomato Sauce

  • Author: Paige Adams
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20-25 minutes
  • Total Time: 25-30 minutes
  • Yield: 2 cups 1x

Roma tomatoes are the base for the easy 7-ingredient fresh tomato sauce. Serve it with your favorite pasta shape from spaghetti to fusilli.


  • 2 pounds Roma tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small white onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Score an X into the bottom end of each tomato. Boil the tomatoes for 1 minute and then transfer to a bowl of ice-cold water. Peel the tomatoes and halve them. Scoop out the seeds and  roughly chop them.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Sauté the onions until they start to soften, about 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Simmer the tomatoes for 15-20 minutes. Use the back of a wooden spoon or potato masher to smash the tomatoes.
  3. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


You can use this sauce for pasta or pizza. 

The sauce turns out chunky. If you prefer it to be smoother, puree the sauce in a food processor or blender once it has finished simmering.


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