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homemade spaghetti sauceHere’s a fantastic inexpensive and quick recipe for making homemade spaghetti sauce. Sure, buying a jar in off the shelf is quick too, but don’t we buy enough prepackaged foods as it is?

For this recipe I’ve included another video plus the written recipe below for you to use.

Now that I think about it, I could do a total series on different versions of pasta sauce, but this particular one I’ve wanted to do for a few months.

This recipe uses 5 ingredients you are bound to have already in your kitchen pantry.  Tomato paste, olive oil, onions, garlic, sugar… (and of course water).

Here’s the video to show how easy it is to make.   I’ve also included the written version and tips below.

The difference with this recipe from some of my other recipes is that it uses tomato paste instead of cans of crushed or diced tomatoes.  There are two main benefits to using tomato paste, the first being tomato paste is cheaper than cans of crushed tomatoes, and secondly I find it takes less time for the sauce to cook which makes it easier for a quick dinner.

How Long to Cook the Sauce?

The idea of letting sauce cook all day on the stove is accurate, but that’s when it is a huge pot of sauce that logically takes longer for all the flavors to blend and cook.  With this recipe it is a smaller batch that can provide enough sauce for two meals for a family of four.

However, that’s an estimate and it also depends on how much you eat.  For example, my sister and her husband could make it stretch for 10 meals probably while Frank and I can use it up in two spaghetti dinners easily.  Reason, we eat more – hence our growing waists, and it’s just the two of us.

I learned how to make this version from my husband who learned it from his Italian mother.   He explained they didn’t always have canned tomatoes when he was growing up, and if they did it was more expensive.  This recipe is perfect especially when on a tight budget.

So let’s get to to good stuff – the recipe itself.

Recipe Ingredients

  • 3 -4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic diced/minced
  • 2 6 oz. cans of tomato paste
  • 3 1/4 Cups of water
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • pinch of salt (optional)

Recipe Instructions:

  1. Heat the olive oil over low/medium heat in a medium size sauce pan
  2. When hot, add in the diced onions and simmer for approx. 5 minutes until they start becoming translucent
  3. Add in the garlic, give a stir and make sure not to let it burn, and let simmer for about 3 minutes or until you can smell the garlic
  4. Add in the tomato paste and water, and stir until blendedtomato paste
  5. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil
  6. Once it starts to boil, lower to a simmer and stir
  7. Cover with a lid (you can have it off center so it lets steam out too if you want)
  8. Let cook for at least 35-45 minutes, stirring every once in awhile
  9. Add in the sugar and stir as this helps the sauce not taste bitter due to the paste
  10. Add in a pinch of salt if you like – we don’t since we try to cut out salt when possible – plus it will be in the cheese
  11. Taste the sauce and when it’s good, you are ready to serve along with some grated Italian cheese.
  12. See below for some tips.

Saucy Tips

As with all my recipes, I keep them very simple, which means that you can use them as they are or choose to build on them.  It seems each time I do a recipe I end up making the dish slightly different each time.   Perhaps I use less onion or more garlic, etc.

It always makes me happy when I hear people saying they used my recipe but made adjustments to suit their tastes or use what they had on hand – that’s what I encourage everyone to do!

Here are some tips I learned from my kitchen that may help you in yours.

  1. Add fresh basil (or frozen if you saved them in ice cubes from the previous season).  Now’s a great time to take them out and use them in the sauce!
  2. Using the herb oregano helps give it a distinct flavor that some people love in their spaghetti sauce.
  3. Speaking of oregano, you can take some of the sauce and add oregano to it and use it for pizza sauce – since it’s the herb oregano that turns a standard sauce into a pizza sauce
  4. Add a bay leaf for more depth
  5. Fry up some beef and add that for extra flavor too – or add in some pre-cooked Italian sausage.  Do not try to cook raw meat in the sauce – this is not something you want to do with a quick sauce.  If you do want a meat sauce you need to precook the meat and then let the meat add flavor to the sauce.
  6. Add some precooked frozen meatballs! When you make homemade meatballs, always make enough so you can freeze a bunch for easy grabbing in times like these.
  7. This sauce doesn’t have to be used only with spaghetti noodles. You can use it on any shape pasta noodle such as bow ties, penne, rigatoni, angel hair, etc.
  8. If the sauce tastes too watery, take the lid off and raise the temperature a bit so it can cook down a bit.  Although it could be ready in 35 minutes, I’d recommend increasing it as long as possible until you are ready to sit at the table since you want to make sure all the flavors are blended.
  9. Last tip – always make sure the onion is translucent before adding the tomatoes.  Reason is once you add the paste and water, the onions will be cooled down and take longer to keep cooking.   You don’t want crunchy onions in your Italian sauce so make sure you don’t “hurry up” that step.

Making Italian sauce is one of the best recipes I personally think anyone can learn. It’s so simple and economical.  You have total control over the quality of ingredients – in my video every single ingredient was organic.   If I were to price out the recipe – it would probably be around $3.00 or less – and that’s with organic ingredients.

Remember, making sauce with tomato paste will give you a slightly different flavor than a can of tomatoes, but that’s okay and not a bad thing.  That’s why I add in the sugar to help offset the very slight bitterness of the tomato paste.  When you make the sauce, taste it before you add the sugar and then after and you will see what I mean.  It’s delicious!

Let me know how you like to make your spaghetti sauce!

Grazie!

Liz