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Standard Tomato Sauce

I've been making sauce for a few years now.  The process started with my mom's recipe then altering it as i learned new techniques and flavor ideas.  Some of these changes were based on tips from Mario and Giada, others I came up with on my own.  This sauce is fantastic and can be eaten as tomato soup with a spoon.

Anywhere between 5 and 10 cloves of garlic depending on how garlicy you feel

To cut an onion like this, be sure to keep the hairy bottom part attached. That will hold everything together as you make your cross slices.

if you don't want to get your hands dirty, you can buy already crushed tomatoes, but I prefer to do it this way. Just wash your hands and get them in there! Squeeze all the tomatoes to crush them and remove any harder core pieces you find.

These are the rejected pieces. You don't need to do this part, but we usually do.

Why open both sides? You will see.

When we have the tomatoes in a big bowl like this, we go ahead and put the basil right in there.

My mom cooks the beef in with the onions when she is building the sauce. I no longer do this, I cook the beef ahead of time and add it later. This helps the other flavors develop more richness and complexity while they are sautéing in the pan. Most importantly the onions and the tomato paste.

Don't drain off the fat from the beef, add it right into the sauce. Sometimes there will be a ton of fat and in that case you can get rid of some of it.

This is the order that things go into the pot

Don't burn the garlic! Only cook it for 1 minute before adding the paste.

Look at that beautiful color!

Add the beef after 5 minutes.

We used fresh oregano which I like A LOT. If you don't get this, dried is ok, but I prefer fresh!

½ cup olive oil
2 medium white onions
7 cloves garlic
18 oz (1 and a half 12 oz cans) of tomato paste
½ lb ground beef
5 28oz cans of whole plum tomatoes
About 3 cups water
Half bunch of basil
1/3 cup of oregano
½ cup parmesan
½ tsp sugar
Splash balsamic
Crushed red pepper flakes

Dice onions
Mince garlic
Chiffonade basil and oregano (small thin strips)
Open cans of paste from both ends
Open all cans of tomatoes and crush the tomatoes with your hands removing any tough pieces. You can do this in a larger bowl or in the individual cans
Grate parm
Brown ground beef with some salt

Get some olive oil in a pot and get it hot. Add one piece of onion. If it sizzles, continue adding the rest of the onions. If it does not sizzle, wait.
Add salt, pepper, and crushed pepper flakes.
Cook for 7 minutes. It should be sizzling the whole time but if the onions are browning, the heat is too high
Add garlic and cook for 1 minute only.
Add tomato paste with a pinch of salt. Cook this mixture while stirring for 5 minutes. Again- the cooking should be audible.
Next add the crushed tomatoes and basil and stir to combine everything.
Add the water. If you like the sauce thicker, add less, thinner, add more.
When the sauce has heated through and is almost at a simmer, add the parm, oregano, sugar, and balsamic vinegar.
Stir everything together and cover. Simmer on low covered for at least an hour. 2 hours is best.
Freeze what you don't use. It is perfect to take out of the freezer and cook with pasta for an easy weeknight meal.


You method of cutting an onion is a terrible method. I would certainly not encourage anyone to cut towards their hand unless they are using a paring knife.

who cares?


Have you a better method of doing that part of the onion cutting?

First of all, I love how your website looks. It's nice to come across unique looking food websites.. most of them blend together.

Also, I love the homely feel of all of you're images.

I will definitly have to bookmark your website and try some of your recipes out!

Tomato sauce has to be the number one thing that people overthink and make too complicated. Just brown one or two cloves of garlic in olive oil over medium heat, add peeled tomatoes (crushed or pureed depending on the consistency desired) and cook for about 15-20 minutes. Finish with basil. Oh, and season with salt. That's it. It will taste like tomatoes, which is a good thing. It is a tomato sauce. It doesn't need meat, vinegar, and definitely NO SUGAR!!!

Looks great I'll have to give it a shot. Jimmy, you're certainly entitled to your opinion, but I think meat and sugar are ESSENTIAL in tomato sauce. Unless you don't want it to taste good.

This is an awesome recipe! I've developed my own over the years, and I agree that fresh herbs are totally the way to go! Have you ever tried a splash of red wine (more like 1/4 cup!)?

I'm with you guys...sugar is almost a must for tomato sauce, unless you are cooking it all day. A little bit of sweet is nice. The tricky part is making sure you don't add too much sugar.

And as for the onion, better method: as you said, leave on the root end, but don't bother with the horizontal cuts. Rather, cut the onion in a ray shape towards the core. Because onions are in layers, you will get a fine chop every time without the fear of a horizontal cut. For finer chop, use more rays.

Hi folks,

This sauce is incredible. I agree that it might not be "Standard Tomato Sauce." It's more like Cheesy-Meaty-Herby Tomato sauce, but still incredibly tasty.

I made it last night (without the ground beef) in preparation for my brother's going away party tonight. I'm making Chicken Parm, and it's going to be fantastic.

Thanks Dan.

Chris, good idea with chopping the onion. It was safer and took me about 30 seconds to dice an onion, as opposed to the normal haphazard 5 minutes it usually takes. Thanks

Knife Skills +1

I agree with you that tomato sauce is one thing people over think when it comes to cooking, but to blatantly tell someone that the way they make it is, I have to say, ignorant. Everyone grows up with different variations of food. In every part of the country or even between two different families a recipe for something will differ. Take for instance, clam chowder. In New England it is cream based where as in Florida and most places in the South it is tomato based.

that is the correct way to cut an onion, maybe if you went to culinary school you would know. dont dis this guy he did a great job. love the recipe!

Actually in culinary school that is how they teach you to cut an onion.

my brother who is a chef and was trained under a man who was trained by one of the iron chefs from japan was taught that thats the correct way to cut.

on u can choose u like!! how much coupons on it!!

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