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Easy Summer Tomato Sauce Recipe

Jill Spencer has been an online writer for over nine years. Her articles often focus on gardening.

In summer, local tomatoes fresh from the fields are plentiful, cheap and flavorful. It's the perfect time to use them in fresh, homemade tomato sauce. With just 2 pounds of tomatoes and a few other ingredients, you can make fresh pasta sauce in less than an hour.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

20 min

20 min

40 min

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small red onion (about 1/4 to 1/2 cup), chopped
  • 3 to 5 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 pounds fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 to 5 sprigs fresh culinary thyme, whole
  • 1 to 3 sprigs fresh oregano, whole
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes or 1 small jalapeno, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon white or brown sugar, optional
  • 1 handful fresh basil
  • Parmesan and/or Pecorino Romano cheese, shredded or grated

Instructions

  1. Core and peel 2 pounds of fresh tomatoes. (If the peel doesn't easily pull away after coring, see the directions below for blanching.)
  2. Chop the peeled tomatoes and set them aside.
  3. Chop the garlic and onion.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  5. Add the garlic and onion, and cook until the onion becomes soft.
  6. Meanwhile rinse the herbs.
  7. Add the tomatoes, thyme, oregano, jalapeno and sugar to the pan.
  8. Reduce temperature to medium low and cook about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  9. When the sauce is almost dry, fish out the herb stems. (By this time, they will be denuded of leaves.) Discard them.
  10. Spoon the sauce over pasta.
  11. Top with Parmesan cheese and basil.
  12. Enjoy!
Prepping the tomatoes

Prepping the tomatoes

Core, Score and Blanch the Tomatoes

Not sure how to get the peel off the tomatoes? It's as easy as core, score and blanch.

Core

After washing the tomatoes in cool water, core them. In other words, you must remove the hard area where the stem was attached. If the tomatoes are very ripe, sometimes you can peel off the skin with your fingers after coring.

Sometimes tomatoes are so ripe, you can peel them with your fingers after coring them.

Sometimes tomatoes are so ripe, you can peel them with your fingers after coring them.

Score

If the tomato skin is tight, score the tomatoes after coring, making an X with a knife across the blossom end and the stem end. Then blanch them in boiling water to loosen the peeling.

Score the bottom of the tomato prior to blanching so that the peel will easily pull away.

Score the bottom of the tomato prior to blanching so that the peel will easily pull away.

Blanch

Blanching means briefly dropping the tomatoes in boiling water, then submerging them in cold water. After blanching, the skin easily peels away.

After submerging the tomatoes in boiling water, place them in a cold water bath.

After submerging the tomatoes in boiling water, place them in a cold water bath.

I've found that 15 seconds is all it takes to loosen the peels of most tomatoes. Once they're dumped into cold water, in seconds they're cool enough to handle. And the tomato under the peel isn't squishy. In the video below, the chef cores and scores before blanching.

Blanching Demonstration

Fresh Ingredients Make the Difference

In addition to garden-fresh tomatoes, the fresh herbs in this recipe really make the difference. Although you can buy herbs in the produce section at the grocery store, the freshest tasting herbs will be the ones that you pick from your garden and use immediately. Be sure to rinse the herbs well in cold water before using them. Also, selecting sprigs that aren't in bloom is best. They're more flavorful.

Basil

Basil

Fresh Basil

Basil is an annual herb that likes full sun and plenty of water, especially in the middle of a hot day. This year we sowed spicy bush basil. Spicy bush basil has a compact form and small, tender leaves on branches that become woody over the course of the growing season. Although tiny, the leaves are packed with flavor! For this recipe, I snip off about four sprigs, which is more than enough.

Oregano

Oregano

Fresh Oregano

We grow Greek oregano. It's a hardy herb that's easy to grow in our Zone 7 garden. It spreads quickly, and its blooms are very pretty. For this recipe, two to three green sprigs are all you need.

Give the blooming sprigs a miss when harvesting thyme for cooking.

Give the blooming sprigs a miss when harvesting thyme for cooking.

Fresh Culinary Thyme

You'll need several sprigs of culinary thyme for this recipe. We grow a fragrant variegated variety.

A freshly picked jalapeno pepper from our flower bed!

A freshly picked jalapeno pepper from our flower bed!

Sugar and Spice

Sugar

To keep the sauce from tasting too "tomato-y," add ½ or 1 full teaspoon of white or brown sugar.

Spice

For a little spice, add a pinch of red pepper flakes. For hot, spicy flavor, add a fresh jalapeno pepper, diced.

Garlic

Garlic is a must-have in this recipe. Don't leave it out, no matter what. Locally grown is best, but garlic heads from the produce section of your grocery store work well too. If you use jarred, minced garlic, you can reduce the olive oil in the recipe to 2 Tbsp.

Smash and Peel Garlic

Rather than processing canned sauce in a water bath, we simply freeze the jars.

Rather than processing canned sauce in a water bath, we simply freeze the jars.

Rate This Recipe

© 2015 Jill Spencer

Comments

Georgina Prentice from New Jersey on July 03, 2018:

Looks yummy and love the pictures of the herbs. Never thought to freeze the sauce. Sounds good.

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on July 20, 2016:

Vocalcoach, I hope you like it. If you do, it's good for freezing, too. All the best, J

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on July 20, 2016:

@ gerimcclym, can you believe I just got the notice that you'd left a comment! And that on one of the links a photo of a tick is showing for this hub instead of the pasta plate? Ugh! Anyway, I really appreciate that you took the time to write something here. Now that the toms are in, I hope you have a chance to try the sauce. Cheers! Jill

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on July 19, 2016:

We just inherited lovely tomatoes from our neighbor. I'm thrilled to find this hub Jill...it's just in time. Can't wait to cook up your delicious recipe tomorrow. A million thanks! Sharing.

Geri McClymont on February 14, 2016:

This tomato sauce recipe looks exquisite and I like that it's easy and requires few ingredients and ones that are easy to find. I find that fresh ingredients make all the difference when cooking in general. Thanks for sharing this recipe. I hope to try it.

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on September 26, 2015:

Thanks for the nice comment, Glimmer Twin Fan. I hope you do have a chance to try out the recipe. It's especially good if you don't skimp on the fresh herbs. All the best, JS

Claudia Mitchell on September 26, 2015:

Oh this looks good and there are lots of tomatoes still available where I am, but not for long. Nice and light sauce that I could use for all sorts or things. Nice recipe Jill!

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on September 17, 2015:

Aww thanks Jill. Farmer's Market season is around the bend here. Maybe a little bit. I know about withered plants--my marigolds bit the dust, and my morning glories are next to go.

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on September 17, 2015:

Hi Kristen. Thanks for commenting. I couldn't make this recipe now without going to the grocery store. It's been so hot and dry here, my basil's gone to seed and my tomato plants have withered away. Sounds like you're still harvesting there. Have fun! Jill

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on September 17, 2015:

Great recipe, Jill. I love the idea on using fresh garden tomatoes. My mother made her own tomato and spaghetti sauce with just canned and diced tomatoes with tomato paste instead of store-brought varieties. I might try this out someday for the fall.

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on August 18, 2015:

Thanks for taking the time to comment, Patricia. So sorry you didn't get your mom's recipe. I wish I had so many of my grandmother's but, like your mom, she didn't write the majority of them down. That's a good cook! All the best, Jill

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on August 18, 2015:

Jill I have tried many tomato sauce recipes...sadly I did not copy down Mommas..which he would have told me from memory..she rarely if ever used a cookbook or recipe card.

This looks like a great one to try so am marking it to come back to later.

Hoping all is good with you this morning...

Angels are headed to you and yours. Voted up+++ shared tweeted g+

Bronwen Scott-Branagan from Victoria, Australia on July 30, 2015:

A useful and interesting recipe - love the photos, too.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on July 30, 2015:

I can almost smell the herbs in your tomato sauce. Thanks for the recipe. I'm tempted to try it. Bookmaking your page.

Maren Elizabeth Morgan from Pennsylvania on July 29, 2015:

Wow - every process explained. I like it!

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on July 29, 2015:

Thanks for stopping by, Donna! All the best, Jill

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on July 29, 2015:

Hope you like the recipe, Larry. Not cooking it long really makes the flavors fresh. Thanks for commenting! All the best, Jill

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on July 29, 2015:

I'll have to give this a try. Thanks.

Donna Herron from USA on July 29, 2015:

This sounds like a wonderful recipe for tomato sauce. I like the idea of adding a little sugar - I'm one of those people who doesn't like their sauce too tomato-y :) Thanks for posting! Voted up and pinned!!