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Tomato Sauce

I am a very good cook, however, every time I cook tomato sauce for pasta it turns out with very little flavor. I have tried many different variations, but still, they turn out subpar. I swear I am not incompetent and am a great cook- something is wrong here. Can someone please give me a fail proof recipe?!?

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  1. Yes - for pasta here is my fool proof sauce - I love it and it is EASY!

    1 head - yes - head garlic - chopped fine
    1/2 yellow onion
    1/4 red bell pepper
    20 roma tomatos - seeded -
    1/4 cup dried fruit - apricots work really well - the secret ingredient!

    Saute garlic/onion/pepper in a sauce pan until onions are translucent.

    Add tomatoes and fruit and put on low heat - stir on occasion - - the sauce will go through 3 stages...it'll be raw (of course) at first - then it'll be very wet as he tomatoes release their juices - then it'll appear dryer again - at this point (1.5 hours on low heat) I recommend using a hand blender/immersion blender to puree the sauce - salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!!

    I've made this for years and always get rave reviews! If you want - add even more garlic as the slow cooking makes it sweet...

    1. p.s - a bit of fresh basil/oregano at the very end! Almost forgot! And the fruit cuts the acidity of the tomatoes...in case you were wondering...

      1. Have you tried roasting the tomatoes first? It will concentrate the flavours and give a richer sense, even in tomato soup.

        3 Replies
        1. re: SanseiDesigns

          I haven't but will try! wondering if it might dry them out too much though?

          1. re: jbyoga

            Try roasting half of the tomatoes. I roast depending on type and season. The meaty tomatoes don't need to be roasted as long (lower water content), and when in season, there is more flavour and I am inclined to capture the fresh flavour and don't roast as often. Good luck!

            1. re: jbyoga

              I always roast my roma tomatoes before putting sauce, core them, add some olive oil, kosher salt & pepper & bake till skins start to peel off. While they are roasting i dice 1 onion, couple teaspoons garlic, couple of plain pureed tomato sauce in the jar, tsp each of basil,thyme,oregano. Then after tomates are finished roasting slide the whole mess including the oo which has now accumulated tons of flavor into the sauce & let simmer for a while. Another great flavor adder is slide in a seared pork roast while the sauce is simmering and let that stew in. Makes amazing sandwiches on a panni bun, the pork, tomatoe sauce & parm. Yum.

          2. roasting will dry them a bit,but water in the tomatoes makes for a bland sauce....roasting will carmelize the sugars and bring them forward...

            As for using canned tomatoes, i suggest mincing up a carrot, onion, and 1 clove of garlic, slowly sweated (low saute) until golden, then tomato puree...cook, partiallyy covered for about 30 minutes. The sweetness of the carrot and onion works to bring out the flavor of the tomato sauce.

            1. Unless you are a vegetarian, browning meat is the key to the flavor in most tomatoe sauces. I use, pig's feet, salt pork,
              sausage. I then, make meatballs seperately, and gently put them in the sauce to cook. Even if you just have 'canned generic tomatoes', my tomato sauce is really good. Oh a couple of pinches of salt & pepper, simmer on low for an hour.

              1. 1/4 cup of olive oil in large pot, saute 1 large onion until almost carmelized. Add 4-5 cloves of chopped garlic until fragrant. Add 1 small can of tomato paste and mix around until it's cooked a little, then add 3 large cans of crushed tomatoes. Add 1.5 cans of water and stir over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of dried oregano, a tablespoon of dried basil, and a tablespoon of sugar.
                In a separate pan heat some olive oil and fry up some italian sausage links until browned on the outside and transfer to the tomato sauce. Deglaze the pan with about a cup of red wine and pour that in the sauce. I also like to add some pork neckbones or country style porkchops to the sauce.
                Keep the sauce on medium until it starts to simmer and keep on low for about 3 hours, uncovered. Stir often from the bottom.
                You'll see that it'll reduce by a third and thicken. Season with a little salt at the end to taste and enjoy.

                1. I love Marcella Hazan's butter and onion sauce. Sweet, rich, decadent, simple and delicious.


                  1 Reply
                  1. re: rose water

                    Yup. Since tomatoes are not in season, use canned tomatoes. Marcella can't be beat. The butter and onion sauce makes canned tomatoes sing.

                  2. I find that a little sugar, a TBS or two, brings out the flavor. I add the sugar to the onions while I saute

                    1. use tomatoes in season -- I like roasted -- or else use canned tomatoes. Out of season, fresh tomatoes will not make a great sauce.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: NYchowcook

                        Thanks so much for your help. I will try everything!

                      2. A sauce that is very simple and always turns out great for me comes from Epicurious and was part of a recipe for eggplant parmesan. The whole recipe was fabulous, but I keep making the delicous sauce. The only "trick" is using good quality canned tomatoes. I use 3 cans of tomatoes instead of the 5# fresh.


                        1 Reply
                        1. re: maviris

                          Have to agree. Good quality San Marzano or other canned plum varietal is key to good sauce. I recommend Tuttorosso, Sclafani, or another brand that does not add salt/chemicals. Also, don't over cook the garlic! Just toast it till it turns pale gold, not brown. Boil, then simmer for about 30 minutes for non meat, and up to 5 hours for meaty sauce.

                        2. I always use canned whole roma tomatoes.
                          Saute some veggies (onions, peppers, carrot) in olive oil first. Once they are very soft and maybe a bit brown, toss in some garlic and crushed red pepper and stir that around for a couple minutes. Crank the heat to medum-high, then add the maters and crush them a little while they start cooking. Toss in some chopped basil and let it cook for a good while. You'll want the volume to reduce somewhat as stated above - concentrating the flavor.

                          Then toss in a little more basil before you're ready to serve or put in containers. Honestly you shouldn't need any sugar or meat - although a meat sauce is typical for some recipes.

                          1. I start w/evoo in the bottom of a stockpot, and then I saute tons of garlic (fresh and chopped, not jarred).....when golden I add 3 large cans of tomatoes.....2 of puree, 1 whole peeled which I break up w/my hands. A tablespoon or so each of dried basil and dried parsley - I like dried here, if I'm in the mood I might give it a hit of fresh chopped when serving. About a 1/2 cup of good quality parmiagano-reggiano, finely grated (microplane) and a 1/2 cup of red wine (as always, a wine I'd be happy to drink). Let it simmer for about 2 hours. If I have a parm rind, I'll toss that in as well (you don't eat it). I put my meatballs in raw, I don't brown them first.

                            1. You don't say if you're cooking with fresh tomatoes; if so, unless you've got bursting ripe fruit, you'll never get a good sauce. Another problem: roma variety plum tomatoes, even when ripe, can be dull and lack a good sweet/acid balance.
                              My recipe for a quick skillet sauce: extra virgin olive oil, a few sliced garlic cloves, sweated with a big sprig of fresh basil; whole, peeled San Marzano or other imported tomatoes crushed carefully by hand. Add sea salt, no pepper yet, test along the way for acid balance and adjust with pinch of sugar or some red wine viengar or even both, depending. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Remove basil. Add black pepper, another glug of fresh oil, fresh basil. No cheese until pasta is mixed in, off heat. Enjoy.

                              1. I use the fresh ones...i agree that sometimes they are lacking in flavor but i find the roasting brings out flavors and i have no prob. If i cannot get the roma's i use vine ripened tomatoes.

                                1. Hi, I am not a superb cook, but my family kills for my spaghetti and meatballs. I make it in the slow cooker and use tomato puree and green ice cubes. I make the green ice cubes by putting the onions and peppers in the blender to make a paste. I make a batch every few months. Freeze in ice cube trays and then store in freezer bags. Pop a couple into the sauce in the morning when I set up the crock pot. It cooks all day. Yum!