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Fresh Tomato Pasta Sauce

One of the best uses for fresh tomatoes is pasta sauce. This is particularly true when you have a jungle-like “garden” of tomato plants threatening to take over your yard. Pick the tomatoes, wash them, toss them in salads, sandwiches, soups and anything else you can think of. The problem is that these plants produce a lot of tomatoes. Recipes that use multiple tomatoes are suddenly highly appealing to me.

Pasta is a great, easy dinner. Pasta sauce from fresh tomatoes is only marginally more involved that using jarred sauce. Including prep time, it takes about 30 minutes from start to finish. While your sauce cooks, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt and cook your pasta. The pasta should be done around the same time as your sauce. Everything is homemade and perfect for a weeknight dinner.

This sauce is very simple and tastes very fresh. Use a shaped pasta to catch more of the sauce, not a long noodle.

Fresh Tomato Pasta Sauce
1 medium onion
2 large cloves of garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
8 medium-large tomatoes
2 tbsp fresh basil, plus more for garnish
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Dice onion and mince garlic. Sautee onion and garlic until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. In the meantime, coarsely chop tomatoes into small pieces. Add them to the pan. Add basil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and simmer sauce, stirring occasionally, until it reduces and the tomatoes are very tender; this should take 15-20 minutes.

Serves 3-4, depending on how saucy you like your pasta.

Meat Variation, shown above:
As sauce simmers, heat 1 tbsp oil over medium heat in a medium sauce pan. Break 1/2 pound of ground beef into small chunks and brown in the oil. Drain some of the grease from the meat, then add beef into the tomato sauce and continue to simmer until the sauce is thickened.

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  • Gia-Gina
    July 19, 2005

    I make pasta sauce all week long but wanted to let you know that there are specific “types” of sauce. Marinara is a tomato sauce but has oregano, wine and garlic, no onion, no meat. Puttanesca has toms, capers, olives, anchovies and garlic. Ragu has meat, toms, and onions. Ragu alla Bolognese has mirapoix, meat, toms and milk. Just my 2 cents on tomato sauce nomenclature. Your sauce looks yummy, I make variations all the time too but here in pasta land people like to know exactly what sauces your serving.

  • linda
    July 19, 2005

    Who know that pasta sauce types were so specific?! i wonder what my pasta sauce is called? I make one i like to slow~cook for hours with all kinds of good things. yours looks very good, Nic. It looks like it tastes very fresh.

  • Clare Eats
    July 19, 2005

    In Australia Marinara has seafood.

    Looks great Nic!

  • FoodNinja
    July 19, 2005


    My Blogging by mail bit is up… Thanks Nic You rock.. I hope we can do this again sometimes…

  • Nic
    July 20, 2005

    Gia-Gina – Wow! I had no idea that there were such specific types of sauce! It always seems like a lot of restaurants around here (not high end ones, I’m sure) will just call any old sauce with tomatoes a “marinara sauce”.Thanks!

    Linda – Slow cooking is good, too. I love the way everything breaks down and melds together. It’s great for sauces with lots of stuff in them.

  • Ana
    July 20, 2005

    Hi Nic,
    I also make tomato sauce like this and cook for only about 20 minutes. I don’t like the sauce with too much tomato (canned tomato + tomato sauce). I find them too acidic and they give me heartburn. In my sauce, I use less tomato (maybe 4) but more onion (usually 2) and, of course, garlic by the trucload.

  • ROhan
    July 20, 2005

    Just tried this.

    Pretty neat. Added Baby Corn, Asparagus and some peppers. very Nice .. very colorful

  • Nic
    July 20, 2005

    Ana – For my garlic loving friends, I would definatley up the garlic content of this recipe.

    ROhan – I love asparagus. I’m tossing some in next time!

  • win now
    June 2, 2008

    This site is interesting as well as informative. Enjoyed browsing through the site. Keep up the good work. Greetings..

  • Brites
    January 11, 2009

    Greeting. We learn and grow and are transformed not so much by what we do but by why and how we do it.
    I am from Japan and too poorly know English, give true I wrote the following sentence: “There are some who need a job and then there are those itching to hop on to something better.”

    Thanks for the help :-D, Brites.

  • kate
    September 10, 2010

    how perfect! was just talking to my husband as we now have a zillion ripe tomatoes on the vine we need to use up! I believe i will be making a giant batch of sauce 😉

  • Patty
    September 19, 2011

    I made this and it was to die for! I am amazed how such a simple recipe could taste soooo awesome! I will definitely be making this again! P.S. I made it meatless but served it on 3 cheese tortellini.

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