Home / Recipes / Pizza & Pasta / Basic Tomato Sauce

Basic Tomato Sauce

This basic tomato sauce is not only quick and easy to make, but it’s a recipe that you will master in no time.

The first thing you want to do is boil the water for your pasta before you start making the sauce.  This way, you can drop the pasta in the water as the sauce simmers and everything finishes at the same time – how’s that for quick?!

This beauty of this sauce is that it can be a base for so many other sauces:  a rosé sauce by adding a little full cream at the end; a puttanesca sauce by adding black olives, anchovies, capers and additional red pepper flakes; and bacon, vodka, green onion and cream will turn this sauce into everyone’s favourite – penne alla vodka.  If you want to add more texture to the sauce, add minced carrot and celery with the onions at the beginning of the recipe.

Basic Recipe for Tomato Sauce

Basic Tomato Sauce

Total Time: 40 minutes

Basic Tomato Sauce


3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
? teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1 small onion, finely diced (about ¾ cup)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jar of passata (strained tomatoes)
½ - 1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon sugar (optional)


  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add red pepper flakes and cook until they start to sizzle, about 30 seconds.
  2. Add onion and a pinch of salt, cook and stir until onions soften, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, cook and stir until fragrant, about 30 seonds.
  3. Add passata and ½ teaspoon salt, reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally until saucy, about 13 minutes.
  4. Taste and add sugar if slightly sour.

Awesome Tomato Sauce Tips:

  • Just before you add the pasta to the sauce, add ½ cup of pasta water to the sauce to loosen and flavour it. This will also help the sauce to stick to the pasta.
  • Before you start making the sauce, place a covered pot of salted water over high heat, then drop in the pasta as your sauce simmers – everything will finish at the same time.


What is Passata?  

Here’s a great explanation.


  • Butter for extra virgin olive oil
  • Canned whole tomatoes for passata – just be sure to crush the tomatoes with your hands before you add them to the sauce, this will give the sauce a nice texture.

Tasty Additions:

  • Chopped fresh basil or parsley
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Crumbled goat cheese
  • Roasted vegetables

One comment

  1. I printed your basic tomato sauce. Thank you.

    Linda Chousky