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Basic Tomato Sauce

Photo: Jennifer Causey; Styling: Jessie Baude

Total time 1 hr

Serves 4 (serving size: about 1/2 cup)

An exact recipe is hard to pin down: We measure tomatoes by the case, not the pound; basil is measured by the bushel. The sauce is ready when my grandmother gives the nod, so the timing is never quite the same. Simmer for the time specified in this scaled-down version or until you're happy with the consistency (about 40 minutes at most). You can also blend the tomatoes and strain to remove the seeds.  


  • 3 pounds ripe plum tomatoes
  • 5/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 basil sprig

Nutrition Information

  • calories 61
  • fat 0.7 g
  • satfat 0.1 g
  • monofat 0.1 g
  • polyfat 0.3 g
  • protein 3 g
  • carbohydrate 13 g
  • fiber 4 g
  • cholesterol 0.0 mg
  • iron 1 mg
  • sodium 317 mg
  • calcium 35 mg
  • Est. Added Sugars 0
  • sugars 9

How to Make It

  1. Rinse tomatoes well with cold water. Quarter tomatoes, removing and discarding the cores.

    Cooking Pasta
  2. Place tomatoes in a large saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a simmer. Cook 10 to 15 minutes or until tomatoes are softened, stirring occasionally. Remove pan from heat.

  3. Line a colander with cheesecloth or a single layer of paper towels; strain tomatoes. Pass tomatoes through a food mill fitted with a fine disk and set over a bowl, or run them through a food processor fitted with a grating disk. Return tomato puree to pan over medium-high heat; bring to a vigorous simmer. Cook 20 minutes or until sauce reaches desired consistency. Stir in salt. Remove from heat.

  4. Place basil sprig in a clean 16-ounce glass jar. Add sauce to fill jar; seal and store in refrigerator up to 1 week.