Fresh Tomato Sauce 8.000

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

Aug 14, 2019

You don't need an entire day to make a flavorful tomato sauce. With no peeling, seeding and very little chopping, this Italian classic requires hardly any prep work and only half an hour of cook time. The rich tomato taste and consistency is just as good as if you had spent hours over the stove top.

We took some liberties with Lynne Rossetto Kasper's original recipe to further enhance the quick-cooking sauce, including switching to meatier Roma/plum tomatoes (get fresh San Marzanos, if you can) and adding some tomato paste for some concentrated, umami-rich flavor.

This sauce is naturally at home on pasta, but it would also be great on sandwiches and pizza, or as a base for a soup or braise. It's charming as a chunky, more rustic sauce; we also really liked using an immersion blender to partially blend it into a more cohesive whole.

Make Ahead: The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 4 days, or frozen 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: 8 servings; makes about 4 cups

  • 5 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 12 large fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 1/4 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or more as needed
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more as needed
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 1/2 pounds plum or Roma tomatoes, cored and quartered


In a 4-quart saucepan, combine the garlic, basil, onion, salt, pepper, tomato paste and olive oil. Heat over medium-high heat for 30 seconds; you should be able to smell the ingredients, but they shouldn't be burning. Add the tomatoes, breaking them up a bit more with your hands as they go into the pan. Bring to a lively bubble, uncovered, and cook 30 minutes, or until the sauce is thick and reduced by half. Stir often, watching for sticking or scorching.

Remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let stand 15 minutes. Taste and season with more salt and pepper, if needed.

If you prefer a smoother texture, pass the sauce through a food mill or process it with a blender, immersion blender or food processor until in small pieces. Serve warm, with pasta or your dish of choice.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from a recipe by Lynne Rossetto Kasper at

Tested by Becky Krystal.

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