Sure, blanching and peeling fresh tomatoes—and then gently reducing them for eight hours—will make your sauce the envy of every Italian grandma. An easier alternative? Make our delicious recipe, which results in a smooth, intensely flavorful sauce in just 50 minutes. Grandma will never know the difference.
3tablespoons olive oil
1large yellow onion, finely chopped (¾ cup)
3cloves garlic, finely chopped
1large celery stalk, finely chopped (¾ cup)
3teaspoons salt, divided
2teaspoons dried oregano
1tablespoon tablespoon tomato paste
328-ounce cans whole tomatoes and their juice
Cook olive oil, onion, garlic, celery, and 2 teaspoons of salt in a large saucepan over low heat for 15 minutes, being careful not to brown. This step, called “sweating,” develops layers of flavor and should not be rushed.
Add oregano and tomato paste and cook for 1 minute, being careful not to burn. Tomato paste adds the concentrated flavor you’d get from slow roasting the tomatoes.
Add tomatoes, their juice, and sugar to the saucepan. With an immersion blender, break down the sauce. (Alternatively, simply crush tomatoes with your hands before adding to the pot).
With the pot partially covered, simmer the mixture over low heat for 30 minutes. Stir in the remaining salt. Add the butter, stir until melted.
Plus three variations:
Add a Parmesan rind to the sauce when you’re simmering the tomatoes. Much of it will dissolve, adding a layer of salty cheese flavor. Be sure to discard any rind remains after simmering.
Stir in one tablespoon of washed capers during Step 1 (the sweating phase), which will add a dash of salty acidity that will brighten and intensify the sauce’s tomato flavor.
Add a dollop of anchovy paste while stirring in the butter. Available in shelf-stable tubes near the canned fish section of your grocery store, it adds a delightful salty-meaty flavor to foods (not fishiness!).