Tomato Sauce + 8 ways to use it

Italian-seasoned tomato sauce is classic, and when you think about it, this red sauce is responsible for making so many things taste more delicious–pasta, pizza, eggplant, meatballs…

Rather brilliantly, lycopene–the thing that gives tomatoes their bright red hue–may possibly help reduce heart disease (perhaps even the risk of stroke) when eaten regularly. Isn’t  it nice to know that not all food that tastes good is bad for you? So pile on the cooked tomatoes! What better way than with some flavorful tomato sauce?

Here is a simple recipe for Italian-seasoned tomato sauce–kid tested and mother approved! My mom drools over this stuff.  We made it last evening with pasta, and she jarred the excess sauce!

Nothing says homemade quite like a Mason jar.
Nothing says homemade quite like a Mason jar.

(Italian) Tomato Sauce 

(Makes roughly 3 quarts of sauce–perfect for jarring or freezing)

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 28oz cans crushed tomatoes (with basil is preferred; without is also fine)
  • 21oz (ish) water (about 3/4 of one of the tomato cans rinsed)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 10-12 fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • Handful of fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • red pepper flakes, to taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Steps

1. In a large pot or saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Sautee the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Then, add the garlic and cook until fragrant, a minute or so.

Sweat the onions, add the garlic. Inhale and enjoy every second of the smell.
Sweat the onions, add the garlic. Inhale and enjoy every second of the smell.

2. Add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Then, reduce to a simmer, partially covered, for roughly 40 minutes. Stir the sauce occasionally throughout. If the sauce tastes sour, add a pinch of sugar.

3. Serve however you wish. I’ve listed a few ideas below!

This sauce is ready! I always love to watch how the color changes from a bright red to a deep red.
This sauce is ready! I always love to watch how the color changes from a bright red to a deep red.

Note: Salt the sauce carefully. As the sauce simmers, it will thicken and the taste of salt will increase. Additionally, many canned tomatoes contain some sodium, so taste and adjust season with care. A little salt goes a long way! You can always add salt at the end if you desire, but you can’t take it out!

8 Ideas for Meals with Italian Tomato Sauce!

1. White Beans in Tomato Sauce

  • Lima Beans would be good here, too!

2. Eggplant UnParmesan (my very first blog post!)

Mark Bittman's Eggplant UnParmesan made by yours truly.
Mark Bittman’s Eggplant UnParmesan made by yours truly.

3. Stuffed Zucchini

Zucchini boats with a side of roasted broccoli prepared by yours truly
Zucchini boats with a side of roasted broccoli prepared by yours truly

4. Fishballs 

Pre-made, homemade tomato sauce would be perfect for fishballs!
Pre-made, homemade tomato sauce would be perfect for fishballs!

5. Baked Eggplant Fries 

  • I made these a couple of years ago as a snack for watching the Grammy’s…delicious and I didn’t feel guilty about eating them!

6. Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Sauce

  • I ❤ spaghetti squash. If you’ve never had it, it’s the silliest thing; it comes out in thin strings…and well, it’s pretty obvious why it’s named “Spaghetti Squash!”

7. Braised Cabbage in Tomato Sauce

  • Cabbage and tomatoes are good friends–other greens would be fun here, too. I’m dreaming of beet greens and tomatoes…

8. Tomato Sauce is a quick topping for steamed, boiled, or roasted vegetables. 

  • Especially green beans, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, cauliflower, and zucchini! Just drizzle the vegetables with a small amount of the sauce to fancy up (and add flavor to) the vegetable of your choice.

Get out there and eat your ‘maters!

Josh

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