With kids and married to an Italian we go through a lot of tomato sauce. A lot. And I have found that the best way to make sauce is in large batches and freeze it. We use one main “red” sauce for everything…meatball subs, spaghetti, pizza – it all gets the same sauce. This keeps it simple.
Making a great tomato sauce is actually quite easy. You can follow instructions on the meatball subs recipe if you want to make your sauce in the slow cooker. This is actually my preferred method, because I can start it and not think about it until dinner. But there are times when I don’t have any sauce defrosted or am using the slow cooker or don’t have all day to cook sauce (like when we change meal plans because of unexpected guests!) and I need to make a quick sauce for pasta or pizza. Here are two great “standby” recipes for tomato sauce:
#1 Cooked sauce – this is best for pastas and is super easy
- 1-2 large of crushed tomatoes
- garlic, onion, basil, oregano seasonings to taste (generally 1-2 tbsp of each)
- 1/4 cup chicken stock
- 1 tbsp sugar (because canned tomatoes can be bitter
TIP: Sneak in carrots, celery, & zucchini by sautéing those in the pot for 10 minutes first, then pureeing the sauce before serving. No one will notice all the extra veggies!
Combine these ingredients in a pot of the stove and heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes-2 hours. If you need to leave it cooking longer, add chicken stock so the sauce doesn’t get too thick. Stir occasionally (I usually stir every time a kid comments on how great the house smells because of the cooking sauce!).
#2 Uncooked Sauce – great for pizzas and even easier that #1
- 1 can (8 oz.) crushed tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste (if you don’t have the squeeze tube tomato paste freeze the stuff from a can in tablespoon servings and then just pull out and defrost what each recipe needs. No waste!)
- Basil, garlic, onion, oregano to taste (generally 1-2 tbsp of each)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
Whisk these ingredients together. Refrigerate covered until ready for use or freeze in 1/4 cup serving sizes. Spread over pizza crust or use as a dipping sauce for cheese or bread sticks.