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3-ingredient tomato sauce

Hi everyone!

I've been trying to find the simplest tomato sauce recipe possible, and I ran across this description in Wikipedia while researching:

"The simplest tomato sauces consist just of chopped tomato flesh cooked in a little olive oil and simmered until it loses its raw flavor, and seasoned with salt."

The simplicity is appealing to me, but I haven't found any pre-existing recipes that restrict themselves to these three ingredients.

My question is, is it really possible to make a sauce this way? If so, how exactly would I go about it?

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  1. Don't include S&P in your 3 ingredients, S&P and evoo should be used but, just don't count them. I'd go with, sautéed onions, bay leaf and tomatoes. If you wish to splurge add celery to the sautéed onions.

    1. Marcella hazan has a delicious sauce that is tomatoes butter and onion. Google it.
      But you can do as wiki suggests above also.

      3 Replies
      1. re: magiesmom

        +1 for Marcella Hazan's recipe. Very basic, delicious and ridiculously easy.

        http://www.nytimes.com/recipes/101517...

        1. re: lynnlato

          agreed. I make this at least twice a month - so simple and so delicious.

        2. re: magiesmom

          This was going to be my suggestion. It is surprising how good it actually is.

        3. It is "The simplest tomato sauce..."

          I do similar and in a separate small skillet I add olive oil and sliced garlic and heat until just sizzling, I add this to the tomatoes, season with salt and a pinch of oregano, and I have a simple marinara sauce.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Gastronomos

            How exactly do I cooke the tomatoes in the oil? What kind of consistency should I expect, etc? If you don't mind, that is...

            1. re: thebalch

              my post should have stated that recipe uses canned tomatoes*.

              if you want, add olive oil and garlic to pot, sizzle, don't brown, add tomatoes from can of your liking, season with salt and a pinch of oregano. simmer and stir regularly.
              if you want a concentrated, thick, almost tomato paste type sauce, cook until the oil rises to the top and when stirred, won't 'dissolve' into the tomatoes. Otherwise 10-20 minutes should do it for a 28oz can or two of tomatoes.

              my preference is to garlic and olive oil tasting sauce and so I take a separate frypan of olive oil and add garlic, sizzle,and pour this into the pot of sauce, stir, simmer a minute or two and serve.

              * canned tomatoes come in many different forms, whole peeled, diced, crushed, puree, etc.
              I like whole peeled tomatoes and I crush by hand, but any tomatoes you like and method you like will be best.

          2. Sure you can make sauce that way, but unless you had the best quality tomatoes that were at peak ripeness, it won't taste like much. I make an even simpler sauce when we have end of season tomatoes from the garden. I finely chop the tomatoes and place them in a bowl with extra virgin olive oil that I would use for a salad, salt and pepper, lots of basil and then let it sit for 20 minutes or so it takes to cook the pasta. Then I dump the hot drained pasta in the tomatoes, toss and serve with cheese. Even simpler. No simmering.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Bkeats

              Nice. I do this IF there is any leftover "horiatiki" salad or tomato sald. Works very well and is quite nice.

            2. Cooks Illustrated has an excellent 20-minute tomato sauce made from a 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes, pureed in a food processor, one clove of galic, crushed, and cooked in 1 T. olive oil in a saucepan (less than 1 minute, until it sizzles). Add the pureed tomato, heat to a simmer and cook on low/simmer about 15 minutes. You want the sauce to cling to / coat a wooden spoon. Add S&P to taste.

              This works because the canned tomatoes are already cooked.

              1 Reply
              1. re: MidwesternerTT

                Mrs Porker makes a similar version, but uses a whole head of garlic cloves which gets cooked in the olive oil, then removed (then home-canned tomatoes).
                Sometimes a fourth ingredient, a pinch of sucralose goes in for sweetness. Sometimes a 5th ingredient, chopped fresh basil goes in as well.

              2. Certainly possible to make a sauce like this and it will be perfectly fine to coat pasta. Personally, if still restricting to 3 ingredients, I would swap the salt for basil, oregano or garlic.

                As for method, the quote in the OP pretty much covers it - chopped tomatoes into a pan, with oil; simmer for a bit, add salt (or my subs). I skin the tomatoes and remove any hard core before chopping but that's about aesthetics, rather than anything more important.

                1. years ago I saw a client of mine every couple of weeks.
                  100% Italian, her daughter also was a client. the daughter bragged about her moms red sauce so I got to the bottom of her recipe next time I saw her.
                  your recipe is exactly what she did except for 1T olive oil + 1T butter. thought it was a joke because I hoped for many ingredients. ones I didn't know. it is a lovely sauce and so easy.