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Basic Tomato Sauce

Tomato Sauce

My dad recently purchased a couple of second-hand copies of Jamie Oliver’s first two books. Although I haven’t followed any recipes to their exact specifications I will have to note, in a few of my future posts, that he has provided me with a little inspiration and culinary guidance. As you have probably guessed this is one such recipe. I get the feeling that there are a couple of fairly common mistakes people tend to make when cooking their own tomato sauce, mistakes I shall attempt to rectify. Firstly, one must remember that chopped tomatoes are entirely useless and that peeled plum tomatoes are simply the only way to go. Secondly, one must cook a tomato sauce for at least an hour in order to remove any bitterness from the seeds. In fact, some Italian chefs cook theirs for up to three hours!

This sauce is being written-up as a stand-alone recipe because it can be used for such a wide variety of dishes. It could be used to top a pizza; as a simple pasta sauce; as part of a simple spaghetti Bolognese; or as part of a meatball dish. It can also be made in advance and frozen, or kept in the fridge for up to a week. If this is the plan, feel free to double the ingredients and make a large batch.

Basic Tomato Sauce {recipe}

Makes about 500ml


• 1 clove of garlic, mashed

• Olive oil

• 2 x 400g tin of peeled plum tomatoes

• 1 tsp dried oregano

• Salt and Pepper

• ½ tbsp red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar

• More olive oil


1. Briefly fry off the garlic in a good slug of olive oil. Add the tomatoes and oregano and simmer – take care not break up the tomatoes. After an hour or two has passed break up the tomatoes, add the vinegar, seasoning and olive oil and cook for a further 5 minutes. If you like, this can be left to cool and be used as it is, or you could blend it for a smoother finish.

Cost: As one might imagine the price of this tomato sauce comes in at an incredibly reasonable price – around 75p. It is also better than those available in the supermarkets, which generally cost between £1.50 and £2.00, for the same quantity.

44 replies on “Basic Tomato Sauce”

I was wondering if one could adapt the roast tomato paasata recipe from Pam Corbin book to use tinned tomatoes, I’ve only ever done with fresh and then only when they are sold by the box at the greengrocers. What do you reckon ? it has similar ingredients to your tomato sauce but is roasted before being paasata’d, making it sweet and very rich tasting.

The fact it is cooked for at least an hour gives it a very rich and sweet taste anyway. The amount of olive oil it takes helps too. I suppose you could roast the peeled tomatoes, but I don’t see that there’s much point…

yes, I always cook my sauce for about two hours and sometimes more, mainly to render it down a little as I DO use all kind of tomatoes to make my sauces. Next year I will grow plum tomatoes and work with those too. What a good tip. c

Thanks for the recipe. This is actually the base of the sauce I make all the time. I lent my Jamie Oliver book to someone and I never got it back but i remembered enough of the recipe to make it up. Enjoy the sauce! I’m sure you’ll be making it over and over again 🙂

I’ve been looking for some tomato sauce suggestions! I canned tomatoes just last week and in the process we had to puncture all the tomatoes. Should I watch out for too much evaporation if the liquid is already out of the tomato?
Thanks! Jamie

I haven’t made a tomato sauce yet, but I’ve made a tomato enchilada sauce which appears slightly similar. I used chopped tomatoes so it would be chunky, but I think for a tomato sauce which I plan to make soon I’ll use plum tomatoes as you suggest! I had no idea some sauces simmered for two hours. Wow! I always think it’s amazing how tomatoes taste sour and bitter (to me) but cooking them brings out a delicious, sweet flavor.

Plum tomatoes are so much nicer than chopped, the flavour is noticeably better. I think this sauce is just better simmered for two hours as it allows the flavour to develop. It’s the same with curries I make – I refuse to cook them for less than an hour or so.

I didn’t know that a long cooking removed the bitterness from the seeds. (I did know that seeds can be bitter and that’s why it’s recommended to remove them). I tend to use canned tomatoes whenever possible rather than mealy out-of-season ones (except, of course right now, when they are perfectly delicious and actually vine-ripened). Like the addition of a bit of vinegar. I am going to make some and freeze in small amounts for my kiddos (the sauce on pizza and pasta is the only way they consent to eat tomatoes). I do make huge batches of bolognese all the time and freeze that, somehow it never occurred to me to try plain sauce though!

I never really appreciated the seed problem fully either. I’ve always cooked my sauces for ages, but didn’t really know the ins and outs of what was happening. Let me know if it all goes well 😀

I can’t argue that longer is not better-I usually simmer my sauce nearly all day long. Never worry about the seeds because my Breville juicer removes them for me, as well as the skins. I also use more stuff, but you know that. LOL

I’m stealing some of your British slang (ie: fry garlic in a “good slug” of olive oil) just so my American friends will think I’m cool 🙂 P.S. I really like your spin on eating good food doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Michael Bolton would appreciate it too… just saying…

Its the combination of ingredients and that long slow cooking that makes a good tomato sauce. It’s one thing that I can’t possibly compromise on and your version is a good one 🙂

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