Tomato Sauce recipe for pasta

…and not just pasta, it can be used for hundreds of dishes. This is an easy tomato sauce recipe, a kitchen basic to learn off by heart and adapt as you go.

Being a busy mum I always get to about 11.30am and think uh-oh they’re going to be hungry any time now. My usual lunch menu involves pasta – 1. they love it, 2. it’s good for you and 3. it can be served in a million different ways.

I do have shop bought tomato sauces in the cupboard as sometimes I am in a hurry and they come in handy however I also make my own which can be varied.

If I want to increase the girls vegetables, I’ll add a few to my sauce and blitz it all up before serving on pasta, sausages, meatballs…even with fish.

Here’s the sauce and I think you’ll find you already have most of the ingredients in your cupboard

Easy tomato sauce recipe

Ingredients – makes 3/4 litre

  • olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 stock cube
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder or flaked (optional)

How to make a tomato sauce for pasta

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan add the onions and garlic and cook over a low heat stirring frequently until they are soft. Important they are soft otherwise they’ll be ‘crunchy’ in your sauce.
  2. Add the tin of tomatoes (you can use fresh tomatoes  in the summer), puree, stock, mixed herbs and seasoning. If acidic add a tsp of sugar.
  3. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for 10-15 mins stirring occasionally.
  4. Can be served as it is or can be blitzed for a smoother consistency.
  5. Serve on pasta with grated parmesan.

Variants on classic tomato sauce

Quantity of one batch of basic sauceVariants

Vegetable sauce – add your vegetables (carrot, courgette, celery, broccoli etc) chopped up very finely or grated after softening the onion and allow extra cooking time to soften the vegetables. I find using a lid helps to keep the moisture in which in turn softens the veg more.

Tuna – ‘al tonno’ – after adding your tomatoes, puree, stock etc add also a can of drained tuna to the sauce and allow the same cooking time as the basic recipe. an anchovy or two chopped up finely adds a delicious taste too.

Salmon – ‘al salmone’ – I use the salmon trimmings which can be found in large supermarkets. Again add at the end of the cooking process and serve.

Bolognese – Minced beef, fry off in a pan and add your sauce to make as ‘wet’ as you please, allow to cook for 30 mins so as to draw out the taste of the mince. I have also tried this with turkey mince for the girls and they love it!

Hot ‘n spicy – with or without mince meat. Just add chilli powder or peperoncino to taste. Start with a teaspoon and add as you go. (I haven’t offered the girls this yet but they do eat some off daddy’s plate when he has it!)

tomato sauce recipe for pasta

Ideas for recipes for your basic tomato sauce

Sausage casserole – grill off your favourite sausages leaving the fat to drip out. Pop your sausages into a pan and add sufficient sauce to cover. Simmer over a low heat for 20 mins and serve with mash.

Chilli con carne – Cook off your minced beef, sprinkle with a tbsp of chilli powder add the basic tomato sauce , a tin of kidney beans and cook over a low heat for 15 mins. Serve with boiled rice.

Meatballs – grill or bake the meatballs to allow the fat to drip out. Add to your basic tomato sauce and cook for 15 mins. serve on pasta, with rice or with potatoes.

Two happy customers :) Buon appetito girls


  1. Alessandra
    January 24, 2011 / 3:10 PM

    You can really spot a mile away that you used to live in Italy!!
    It all sounds delicious x

  2. January 25, 2011 / 12:08 PM

    Delicious. I would neber buy a canned sauce. I would rather just give the boys tinned toms and herbs

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