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Crowdsourcing the Best Tomato Sauce

This past weekend was our anniversary, and we went to the beach to celebrate our marriage by running on the sand as if we were in a Vagisil commercial.  Actually we stood on the sand and stuffed our mouths with Thrashers.  But it’s mostly the same thing.

We also went to a famous Rehoboth pizza place that shall not be named because I’m cranky beyond words at this moment.  We had this brilliant idea to purchase sauce and bring it home so we could recreate the restaurant experience in our own kitchen.  Their pizza sauce is vegan.  Their tomato sauce is not.  Josh went up to the counter and bought the tomato sauce, not realizing that.  I didn’t look at it until we got home.  So we now have jars of unusable meat sauce on our hands.


I need a great tomato sauce recipe for tonight.  Here are the parameters:

(1) I’d like it to cook for an hour or so.  I have a lot of quick tomato sauces, which are fine.  But I’m looking for a sauce that feels as if a lot of love has been put into it.  Time = love.  So I’d like it to cook for at least an hour.

(2) I’ve always preferred recipes that use canned tomatoes over fresh tomatoes.

(3) I am not a fan of oregano in sauce.  Basil is fine.  Parsley is fine.  A bay leaf is fine.  But oregano is not.

(4) It has to be vegetarian — no meat.  Cheese is okay, but no beef, pork, chicken, etc.

If you have a recipe that fits this description, or you know that your recipe can be tweaked to fit this description, leave it in the comment section below or email it to me.  If you’re okay with me posting your recipe at the bottom of this post so others can use it too, please let me know.  If you don’t say so, I won’t post it.

Thank you for saving our dinner.


1 HereWeGoAJen { 11.18.13 at 8:16 am }

I’ve made the one that is all over the internet that is a can of crushed tomatoes, an onion cut in half, and butter. It sounds simple, but it was amazing. And you simmer it on the stove for a long time and it smells delicious. http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2010/01/tomato-sauce-with-butter-and-onions/

2 Nicoleandmaggie { 11.18.13 at 8:21 am }

Do you prefer sweet sauce or not? (I ask because dh and I used to have different tomato sauce preferences. He no longer likes sweet tomato sauce.)

3 A.M.S. { 11.18.13 at 8:24 am }

I just emailed you the guidelines for the sauce my grandfather taught my father who taught my mother who taught me. It’s a good all purpose sauce recipe that can be fast or slow, smooth or chunky, thick or thin and seasoned just about any way you want. Ain’t nothin’ hard about tomato sauce! 😉

4 Jen { 11.18.13 at 8:47 am }

When you have more time to cook, adding a slosh of red wine and cooking it long and slow works magic on most recipes. Happy anniversary!

5 KeAnne { 11.18.13 at 8:50 am }

Here’s our recipe for sauce. It does have oregano, but it’s a very forgiving recipe, so feel free to omit and substitute with a different herb


6 JustMe { 11.18.13 at 10:08 am }

Good sauce is easy to make. The trick is time, tasting as you cook, and good ingredients. All I do is take a bunch of fresh garlic (maybe 10 pieces?) and chop it up and brown it in a ton of olive oil. Then, take cans of whole peeled tomatoes (adjust the amount depending on how much sauce you want…usually around 2-3 cans). It is important to buy expensive tomatoes because this will make your sauce. For example, Hunts is a no-no, Cento is ok, speciality Italian groceries sell the best. Then you crush the tomatoes into the garlic and oil (turn burner off for this part). I crush each tomato by hand, but you could also squish they a colander or use a blender for a really smooth sauce. If you want a thicker sauce, you can also add a can of tomato paste (I usually don’t for pasta) – again, buy a more expensive brand. Seasonings are up to you. So you can omit oregano if you want 😉 I usually add salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper, basil, oregano and sugar. The sugar is important to cut acidity. A good sauce then simmers on low heat anywhere from one hour to four hours. The less you cook it, the more “fresh tomato” taste you get. I usually re-season to taste about 30 minutes before I’m done cooking. Sometimes at the end I will adds little of the water from the boiling pasta noodles. Enjoy!

7 Catwoman73 { 11.18.13 at 10:17 am }

I have absolutely nothing to add from what JustMe said above. I prefer a little less garlic, but that’s just my preference. And I second the idea that good quality tomatoes are the key- I prefer to blanch and peel fresh ones- they are sweeter, and you have to add less sugar to the sauce when you use them. I prefer brown sugar over white- it just tastes more rich. And herbs are totally a matter of taste- I like all the traditional Italian herbs in my sauce, but there’s no reason why oregano can’t be eliminated. Wish I could help using an actual recipe, but I pretty much never cook using recipes. I like to wing it in the kitchen. Good luck! 🙂

8 a { 11.18.13 at 12:46 pm }

In my opinion, a good tomato sauce should include garlic, basil, pepper, oregano, and fennel seed. I guess you could leave the oregano out. And if you’re looking to create pizza sauce, you should definitely blend the tomatoes and add tomato paste. Chunky tomatoes should be on top of the pizza, not in the sauce. Anyway, you have to cook it down so it’s not too thin, and so the flavorings merge, so that will take some time.

9 Brid { 11.18.13 at 2:35 pm }

I’ll use corn, blended smooth instead of sugar to sweeten… Try roasting it first, if you have extra time, then blending. It adds a really sweet flavour and a nice creamy rose colour to the sauce. And cumin… cumin for everything! Of course, it’s not Italian, but we’re all hybrids now anyhow!

10 It Is What It Is { 11.18.13 at 7:41 pm }

This is a staple, go-to marinara sauce recipe http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/marinara-sauce-recipe/index.html. It can be simmered longer and you can substitute stock (vegetable) for the wine (my husband doesn’t like wine flavored sauces). And, for richness or depth of flavor (for a more tomato-y sauce), you can add tomato paste (2 T). I also top it off with a swirl of olive oil when I remove it from the heat.

11 It Is What It Is { 11.18.13 at 7:43 pm }

Oh, and the comments give dozens of suggestions for variations/substitutions.

12 Ann Z { 11.19.13 at 1:12 pm }

I know this is coming too late, but here’s my sauce recipe http://tragicoptimist.wordpress.com/2008/10/04/tomato-sauce/ — I use fresh tomatoes in the summer and canned tomatoes other times, it always turns out good. It calls for veggie or chicken broth, and I don’t think there’s any difference in flavor between the two. I throw in whatever herbs I happen to have and feel like throwing in. Rosemary, parsley, basil, thyme (I do usually throw in oregano, but it’s totally not necessary). I cook it for as long as I have the time to do. Longer is better, but I usually end up pulling it off the stove after 30 minutes because I never plan ahead enough. If I want a sweeter flavor (which I usually don’t), I throw in a large carrot, cut into about 3 large pieces, and then take it out when I’m done. Other times, I throw in hot pepper flakes to add a little heat.

13 loribeth { 12.02.13 at 8:15 pm }

Damn that tomato allergy of mine. 🙁 These all sound so yummy!

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