The building blocks of a meal are often the recipes I don’t think to share. They’re usually staples, things I like to squirrel away in my freezer or have in the back of my fridge, ready when I am. I make them nearly every week, taking one recipe and turning it into many meals or snacks.
This tomato sauce, which I’ve been making for a couple years now, is one of these under-the-radar recipes.
We don’t eat a lot of pasta around here, and when we do, my boyfriend makes it, turning to traditional recipes (unlike the one I’ve made here) with two or three ingredients. Small portions are key, or we’re left with an insatiable hunger that lasts well into the next day. Sounds strict, but it’s how we feel best. Our portion of pasta is about 1/2 cup, which took me a long time to get used to it, as did the frequency at which we eat it. Once a month, maybe twice, and that’s it. It’s a side dish or start to the meal, not the main event.
Reducing my pasta (and overall sugar consumption) doesn’t mean I have to stop eating the sauce though. I make this particular earthy-sweet-umami tomato sauce recipe on weekends, usually when I’m doing a bit of meal prep, to have on hand all week long.
I was inspired to share this in all of its rich, roasted, sweet simplicity, by my friend Marie of the beautiful food Food Nouveau who journaled her Universal Big Batch Tomato Sauce Recipe. Marie is spot on about the dinner hour creeping up on us, which is why recipes like tomato sauce, ones that can double as something brand new today and again tomorrow, are imperative to have around.
In Marie’s post, she suggests using homemade tomato sauce as a base for bolognese or sauce for meatballs (meat or veggie). I love this tip because most of the heavy lifting is done for you. Here are some more uses for tomato sauce to whet your appetite.
Pasta: Nothing better than homemade tomato sauce with pasta. Here’s my quick no-recipe recipe from the photos: toss sauce with cooked spelt rigatoni and spinach. Top with garlic and parmesan infused whole grain sourdough bread crumbs (thank you, Blackbird Baking Co.!). Bake until bubbling.
Whole Grains: My current favourite quick lunch includes warm brown rice or quinoa, this tomato sauce, warmed, a poached egg and tiny mountain of arugula. Half warm, half cool, entirely satisfying.
Pizza: Coat your favourite pizza dough with a thin smear of sauce. Serve with extra sauce on the side, if you like. I have a recipe for gluten-free pizza crust and spelt pizza crust to help you out.
Eggs: Poach eggs, as you would with shakshuka, in the tomato sauce and serve over polenta or brown rice or with a slice of crusty whole grain sourdough.
Dip: Anything and everything, especially oven fries and onion rings.
Soup: Add broth until desired consistency and turn into the best roasted tomato soup you’ve ever had. A splash of full-fat canned coconut milk will make it the best cream of roasted tomato soup you’ve ever had.
Layer: Gluten-free brown rice or regular lasagna noodles plus this sauce, ricotta and layers of eggplant and zucchini (or double up on the veg and skip the noodles), bake and enjoy.
Protein: Roast or slow-cook your favourite protein, be that white beans, chicken, pork or beef in the sauce. Serve with a bitter vegetable salad.
Freeze the sauce, leaving headspace for expansion, up to 3 months. Because there’s only two of us in the house, I freeze in smaller portions that will feed us for a meal.
- 1 (28 oz) can whole tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 sprig fresh basil, stem and leaves intact
- 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped (I've even left them whole)
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil or unsalted butter
- ½ tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 375ºF. Add all ingredients to a large (9x13-inch) glass or ceramic baking dish and gently crush tomatoes with your hands. Mix everything about in the dish. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until bubbling and reduced. Cool, transfer to a food processor or blender and pulse until desired texture; sometimes I like it smoother, sometimes rougher, depending on what I'm going to use it for.
- Refrigerate airtight up to 2 weeks, or freeze in 1 to 2-cup portions, leaving headspace for expansion in the freezer, up to 3 months.