Making Pasta Sauce

This is a post from my home blog that I did last year.  Since it is getting close to tomato canning time, I thought that I would re-post the pasta sauce how-to’s here.

At my house we get really serious about our pasta sauces. Over the past year our quest for the ultimate tomato-based pasta sauce lead us to grow a large population of a specific variety of tomato, the margherita. It is a roma style hybrid tomato which produces abundant yields of long, slender tomatoes. Fresh off the vine, they taste rather ordinary, but when roasted they become so delicious we weep! (As a side note—no, I don’t believe that I am going to become a mutant because I eat hybrid varieties of vegetables—sheesh!)

Each year I plant a few of my favorite varieties of tomatoes and a few new varieties. Last year, 2008, the margheritas were an experiment. I haven’t traditionally been able to grow Roma-style tomatoes very well; it has been a mystery as to why they make such a poor showing in my garden. As I was perusing one of my favorite seed catalogues from Park Seed, their description of margherita tomatoes made me want to give this variety a try. What a find! The tomatoes grew 5-6 inches long, as promised, and in abundance. As also promised, when the tomatoes were roasted the flavor was unbeatable.

Our family uses this base as a launching pad for the sauces that we use on pizza, spaghetti or other pastas, and also eggplant parmesan.

To see my niece in-law’s success story with making and canning this sauce, visit her blog post here.

This is how my daughter, Tricia, and I prepare the base for our sauce:

  • Cut the tomatoes lengthwise and spread them out on a foil-lined baking sheet
  • Drizzle olive oil over them, then sprinkle with salt and pepper (we use sea salt and a freshly ground mixed pepper—white, black, green, red)
  • Sprinkle with peeled, smashed, fresh garlic cloves
  • Scatter whole, fresh basil leaves over everything
  • Roast in a 450° F. oven until the tomatoes are caramelized
  • While the tomatoes are caramelizing, chop 1 medium or large onion and cook it in olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Get the onion nice and caramelized, too, but not burned—just a lovely golden brown. Yum!
  • Remove the tomatoes from the oven and let them cool enough to process in a blender. Toss everything into the blender and process until smooth (don’t forget to add the onions).
  • You can stop at this point, choose your favorite lickin’ spoon and start eating—warning: don’t be alarmed if your eyes start rolling backwards and leaking from the sheer joy of the incredible flavor dancing across your taste-buds
  • Or you can get on with making your favorite pasta sauce. We bottle this sauce in quart or pint glass jars (in a pressure canner) for use throughout the year.

A few pics of the process:

The prep–look at those fresh herbs.  We grew those!
All caramely sweet.
Making the sauce.  You wouldn’t believe how delicious the kitchen smells.

At a later time I will post our pizza, spaghetti, and eggplant parmesan recipes which use this sauce.  I’ll also tell you how to make a tomato sauce from store-bought canned tomatoes.  One warning up front, to make a really good tomato sauce, this is one place where the quality of the store-bought canned tomatoes can make a real difference in the quality of the sauce.  BUT, that is for posts in a couple of weeks.  Stay tuned.


  1. Jenny says

    Hey Terri! I was just getting ready to make this sauce and I wanted to get your two cents on the idea of adding some cream. Would that can probably if there was cream in it? I love vodka sauce and wanted to try and replicate it and I figured I could start with this recipe.

    • says

      Hi, Jenny. No go on the cream. It should not be canned in foods at home. Instead, can the sauce as usual and then add the cream to the sauce just before serving. Julie just told me a couple of days ago that you were gearing up to start making pasta sauce. That’s great! You’re my canning hero. FYI, this sauce also makes an amazing creamy tomato artichoke soup.

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