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Everyday Tomato Sauce

Everyday Tomato Sauce
Anthony Michael Contrino
Cook Time:
1 hr
Prep Time:
5 mins
makes approximately 10 cups

Chef notes

Like many Italian-Americans, my family has pasta pretty much every Sunday. When I was younger, my parents would make a vat of sauce every month and freeze it so that we always had it ready to go. They would even take quarts of it with us on vacation! Not only is this delicious when served with pasta, it is a versatile sauce that can be used on pizza, served with mozzarella sticks or transformed into a creamy vodka sauce.

Technique tip: Slowly simmer the sauce to meld the flavors. If making in advance, divide the sauce into 3-quart containers and freeze for up to 2 months. If your sauce is too acidic, add up to 1 teaspoon of sugar, adding 1/4 teaspoon at a time.

Swap option: Use red or white onion instead of a sweet onion.


  • 3 (28-ounce) cans San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 large sweet onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • teaspoons salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup packed basil leaves (1 small handful), plus more for garnishing
  • Pecorino, freshly grated, for garnishing



Using an immersion blender, puree the tomatoes in the can, until smooth. Set aside.


Meanwhile, in a large Dutch oven, warm the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and sauté, stirring often, until the onions are softened, but have not taken on any color, for 6-8 minutes.


Add the tomatoes. Fill one of the empty cans with 1/2 cup cold water. Swirl the water to gather any of the residual sauce in the can. Transfer to the other two cans, working one at a time, and repeating the process. Add the water, now almost a tomato sauce of its own, to the Dutch oven.


Add the oregano, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and basil. Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce the heat and simmer, stirring every 10-15 minutes, for 1 hour. Season with additional salt, if necessary.


Serve with your favorite pasta and garnish with freshly grated pecorino and basil.