Simple Tomato Sauce

2009 Jul/Aug

A long simmering time will eliminate acidity in a tomato sauce, so there is no need to add a neutralizing pinch of sugar. For a rosé sauce, skip the butter at the end and instead add a few “glugs” of whipping cream or half-and-half.


  • Canola or olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and halved
  • Splash of red wine (optional)
  • 2 – 28 oz cans whole plum, diced or puréed tomatoes, undrained
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 whole basil leaves (optional)
  • 1 – 2 T. butter


In a medium saucepan, heat a slick of oil over medium-high heat and toss in the onion halves; cook for a minute or two, then pour in a splash of wine, if you like. Cook for a minute and then add the tomatoes and a pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, breaking up chunks of tomato with the back of a spoon, for about an hour, or until sauce turns a deep red. (Stir in the basil leaves about halfway though the cooking time.) Pull out the onion halves and discard. Stir in the butter until it melts. Makes about 6 cups.