Basic Tomato Sauce

Maria Elia's simple but tasty sauce is wonderfully versatile and can form the basis of many flavoursome dishes, especially pasta
By Maria Elia
Basic Tomato Sauce
  • Rating:
  • Serves: Makes 1 litre
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Effort: easy


  • 50 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Spanish onion, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp tomato purée
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 x 400 g cans Italian plumvine tomatoes, crushed
  • basil

Tips and Suggestions

Always remember the cooking time given is approximate, large quantities of sauce will take longer to reduce, as well as if the pot is broad and shallow compared to deep and narrow!
If fully ripened plum vine tomatos are available these are the best to use, if not use tinned Italian plum vine tomatoes. If using fresh tomatoes-the following must always be observed:
Cross and eye tomatoes, then plunge into boiling water for a minute or less. Plunge into cold water, then peel. Cut into coarse pieces.

Add pancetta to make Amatriciana.
Add chilli flakes to make Arrabbiata.
Add olives, more garlic and anchovies to make puttanesca.
Add vodka and cream to make vodka sauce.


1.Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Add the onion and garlic, and cook for about 10 minutes on a low heat until soft. Add the tomato puree and cook for a further minute.

2. Add the bay leaf and tomatoes along with their juice and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Adjust the seasoning as necessary, and add the basil if using.

3. The sauce will keep in the fridge for 1 week.

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