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Big-Batch, Pantry-Friendly Tomato Sauce

Big-Batch, Pantry-Friendly Tomato Sauce 24.000

(Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)

Apr 12, 2020

This sauce is basic, but in a good way. Simplicity and pantry-friendly ingredients are its hallmarks. The recipe makes a little less than 1 1/2 gallons of sauce that can then be portioned for use in a variety of dishes, such as shakshuka, pizza or pasta sauce. Measure the sauce into the portions needed for each recipe you plan to make with it. Label each package with the ounces it contains, as well as the date, and freeze it. Then you have a leg up on your next meal prep. The sauce is deliberately simple so it can serve as a foundation. Just add fresh or dry seasonings to a make a sauce for your favorite Mexican, Italian, Mediterranean or Indian dishes.

Storage Notes: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 24 servings; makes about 1 1/2 gallons

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups chopped Vidalia onions or other sweet onion, about 6 medium onions
  • 9 garlic cloves, minced or mashed
  • 3 tablespoons Italian seasoning mix
  • 4 (28-ounce) cans no-salt-added whole peeled tomatoes, plus their juices
  • 1 28-ounce can no-salt-added tomato sauce
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed

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In an 8-quart pot over medium-high heat, heat the oil until just shimmering. Add the onion and lower the heat to medium. Cook until softened, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until aromatic, about 2 minutes. Add the Italian seasoning and stir to combine. Over a medium bowl, use your hands to crush the tomatoes and add them to the pot with their juices. Stir to combine. Then, add the tomato sauce and bay leaves and stir to combine.

Raise the heat under the pot and bring the sauce to a boil, about 6 minutes, stirring frequently. Then, reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to break up and the sauce thickens a bit, about 1 1/2 hours. Add the salt and pepper, then taste and adjust with more salt and/or pepper as desired.

Remove from the heat, and, if desired, blend with an immersion blender to smooth remaining chunks of onion and tomato.

If not using right away, cool completely before storing.

Recipe Source

From recipes editor Ann Maloney.

Tested by Ann Maloney.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving: 90

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 4g 7%

Saturated Fat: 0g 0%

Cholesterol: 0mg 0%

Sodium: 210mg 9%

Total Carbohydrates: 8g 3%

Dietary Fiber: 2g 8%

Sugar: 4g

Protein: 2g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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