Spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce in a bowl.

June 23, 2022

Fresh Tomato Sauce with Roma Tomatoes

Roma tomatoes are perfect for this easy homemade fresh tomato sauce. With only 10 ingredients, toss it with your favorite pasta shape or even spread it on pizza.

Roma tomatoes are perfect for this easy homemade fresh tomato sauce. With only 10 ingredients, toss it with your favorite pasta shape or even spread it on pizza.

Spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce in a bowl.

My pantry is never without canned tomatoes. No matter if they are whole, diced or crushed, they are a staple on my shelves. I use them as the base for roasted tomato soup, minestrone and slow-cooker lentil tortilla soup.

I admit that come tomato season, those cans get a little bit dusty if there are any left at all. That’s because I am in full fresh tomato mode. Sometimes I keep them raw, other times I roast them in the oven, and then there are those moments when I simmer them on the stove to make batches of sauce.

Many summers ago, I spent an entire day canning homemade sauce. I love a kitchen project, but I still thought it was a lot of work. And even though it seemed worth it when I first popped open a mason jar on a frigid January night, I am much too impatient. So I just enjoy this fresh sauce in season.

Roma tomato sauce in a skillet.

The Best Tomatoes for Homemade Sauce

Whenever I make tomato sauce with fresh tomatoes, the type I always go for are roma, which fall into the category of plum tomatoes. They are firm and shaped like an egg. When they are ripe, they will be a bright, saturated red color like so many other tomato varieties.

The reason they are so wonderful for sauce is that they have more flesh and less water than other tomatoes. Also, roma tomatoes have fewer seeds. When they cook down, they really intensify in flavor.

The Ingredients

  • Roma tomatoes: Certain tomato varieties are good for sauces because of their size and the limited amount of seeds and maximum amount of tomato flesh. Look for roma tomatoes that don’t have any soft spot or bruises.
  • Onions: Roughly chopped white onions are the base of the sauce. I sauté them in olive oil until they turn soft, so they will melt right into the tomatoes. You can substitute with yellow onions.
  • Garlic: I take three plump garlic cloves and mince them for the sauce.
  • Olive oil: Since this is such a simple recipe, I use extra virgin olive oil.
  • Tomato paste enhances the overall tomato-y flavor because it’s so concentrated.
  • Spices: To season the sauce, I include dried oregano, rosemary and red pepper flakes. They are classic Italian seasonings.
  • 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 it’s almost ready.
Steps showing how to peel tomatoes.

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 an X into the bottoms of the tomatoes with a paring knife.

Then put 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 them. Then they are ready to be cooked in the sauce.

How To Make Fresh Tomato Sauce

Peel the tomatoes. Score the bottoms with an X using a paring knife. Simmer them in boiling water for a minute. Then use a slotted spoon to move them to a bowl of ice water. After this, the tomatoes should peel very easily. Halve them, scoop out the seeds and chop the flesh.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and sauté the onions. Give them time to turn soft and translucent.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet and then saute the onions.

Add the tomato paste and aromatics including the garlic, oregano, rosemary, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Cook for 1 minute until everything is fragrant.

Stir in the chopped tomatoes. Reduce the heat slightly and simmer the sauce until it thickens. The tomatoes will fall apart. You can use a potato masher to really break them apart. If you prefer smooth sauce, puree it in the blender.

Add the aromatics to the onions in the skillet. Then pour in the tomatoes and simmer.

How To Use Tomato Sauce

Fresh tomato sauce is lighter in color and more delicate in flavor than one made from canned tomatoes. A pasta dish is the most obvious way to use it. Stir it into spaghetti, penne or another shape. Sprinkle the pasta with Parmesan cheese, chopped parsley or torn fresh basil to finish it.

This sauce recipe is great for pizza too, especially if you like a chunkier sauce on the crust. Keep it simple with mozzarella and not much else, so you can focus on the sauce.

Spaghetti with roma tomato sauce on a plate.

What To Serve With Tomato Pasta or Pizza

Go with a big green salad like a basic arugula salad with lemon vinaigrette. Or if you want something more, try an Italian chopped salad with olives, chickpeas and a mix of romaine and radicchio.

For a side dish again I am going with the color green and recommending roasted asparagus or parmesan roasted zucchini.

Roma tomato sauce in a bowl.

Leftovers and Storage

You can keep the tomato sauce in an airtight container in the fridge up to 3 days. If you want to store it longer, go ahead and freeze it. Before you put it in a container, let it cool to room temperature.

When I do freeze it, I like to portion it out into individual serving sizes. Then I am just thawing the exact amount that I need for a meal rather than all of it.

The easiest way to thaw the frozen sauce is to let it sit at room temperature to melt and soften a bit. Then heat it on the stove over low to medium heat, stirring it to break up any chunks and to distribute the heat.

Raw Tomato Recipes

Tomato Peach Burrata Salad
Marinated Cherry Tomatoes
Caprese Salad
Tomato Chili Mozzarella Salad

Roasted Tomato Recipes

Baked Feta Cheese with Olives and Tomatoes
Slow-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
30-Minute Roasted Tomatoes
Roasted Tomato Pesto Pasta Salad
Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette

Stovetop Tomato Recipes

Burst Tomato Pasta
Mushroom Tomato Farro
Rigatoni with Canned Tomato Sauce

Print
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Roma tomato sauce in a bowl.

Fresh Tomato Sauce

  • Author: Paige Adams
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
  • Total Time: 25-30 minutes
  • Yield: 3 cups 1x
  • Category: Sauces
  • Method: Simmering
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

Roma tomatoes are perfect for this easy homemade fresh tomato sauce. With only 10 ingredients, toss it with your favorite pasta shape or even spread it on pizza.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 pounds Roma tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small white onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  1. To peel the tomatoes, 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 them to a bowl of ice-cold water. Peel the tomatoes and halve them. Scoop out the seeds and  roughly chop the flesh.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Sauté the onions until they start to soften, about 4 minutes.
  3. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic, oregano, rosemary and red pepper flakes. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the tomatoes, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 15-20 minutes until thickened.
  5. Use the back of a wooden spoon or potato masher to break up the tomatoes.

Notes

You can use this sauce for pasta or pizza. 

If you prefer smooth sauce, puree it in a food processor or blender once it has finished simmering.

Store the sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 3 days. You can freeze it up to 1 month.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 86
  • Sugar: 7.2 g
  • Sodium: 325 mg
  • Fat: 4 g
  • Carbohydrates: 12.4 g
  • Fiber: 3.4 g
  • Protein: 2.6 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

Keywords: roma tomato recipes, fresh tomato sauce

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Recipe rating

    • I recommend peeling and chopping some additional roma tomatoes and simmering them in the sauce you already made. By adding tomatoes, you increase the amount of non-spicy ingredients in the recipe to reduce the heat.