Fresh Tomato Sauce with Basil and Garlic

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Here’s the perfect way to use those juicy, ripe, end-of-summer tomatoes – Fresh Tomato and Basil sauce for pasta, meatballs, pizza and flatbreads, and more! Using a little tomato paste enhances the flavor and texture, while grating the tomatoes is an easy way to simultaneously remove the skins and crush them – no need for blanching. Garlic flavor is subtly infused throughout, with fresh basil leaves and some (optional) butter added at the end for a wonderfully simple, rich, from-scratch tomato sauce made with fresh tomatoes.

I realize I’m “supposed” to be posting apple and pumpkin recipes since it’s “September” and I’m a “food blogger” but alas, the weather and my garden disagrees. It’s 90 degrees and wicked humid and I have a huge pile of ripe tomatoes beckoning to fulfill their delicious destiny. So here’s one more summer recipe to close out the season!

I’ve been on the search for a great from-scratch tomato sauce for pasta made with fresh tomatoes. Regular tomatoes – heirloom, slicing, etc. – not specifically San Marzano. This fresh tomato sauce is a wonderful solution for using any medium to large tomato. In fact, I think it’s better than Rao’s *gasp!* and my husband wholeheartedly agreed. I know you’ll love it, too!

You’ll need to do a bit of prep work for this. First, you’ll scoop as many seeds as possible out (which can add a bitter taste to the sauce). Then, you’ll grate the inside of the tomatoes to crush them into a pulp and separate them from the skin. Once you’ve done that, this sauce comes together in mere minutes!

What kind of tomatoes can I use?

You can use any kind of medium – large tomato for this recipe. I used what I had from my garden – a combination of brandywine heirloom tomatoes and celebrity slicing tomatoes.

San Marzano (aka Roma or Plum tomatoes) are usually used for from-scratch tomato sauce recipes. They aren’t necessary here (though you can use them if you want!). They’re prized for not having a lot of seeds and for being particularly “meaty” – perfect for sauce.

But for this recipe, you can stick with whatever tomatoes you have. The only ones that won’t work are small tomatoes, such as cherry or grape tomatoes. It would be too difficult to remove their skins and seeds.

My garden tomatoes and basil! I’m proud!

Ingredients for Fresh Tomato Sauce

Fresh Tomatoes – any kind of medium to large fresh tomato (cherry or grape tomatoes won’t work).

Olive oil

Garlic cloves

Tomato Paste

Fresh Basil

Salt

Butter – optional, but HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Crushed red pepper – again, optional, but adds a subtle kick that is oh-so-delicious and not overwhelming! You can also use Aleppo pepper or Calabrian chili paste or other spicy addition of choice.

How to make tomato sauce from scratch using fresh tomatoes

First, you’ll need to prep the tomatoes. Cut them in half lengthwise, squeeze the seeds out using a spoon to help you remove them, and grate with a box grater. You’ll be left with a tomato pulp, and you can discard the seeds and skins. Don’t worry if there are a few seeds left! Then, place the pulp in a mesh sieve placed over a bowl to catch the liquid. You want the liquid to drain away from the pulp as much as possible, otherwise the sauce will take longer to cook and reduce.

And while we prep the tomatoes, we’re going to let a couple of smashed garlic cloves and a little red pepper (if you want it to have a little kick) cook over low heat in olive oil, infusing the oil with the perfect amount of subtle garlic flavor that will reach every part of the sauce. After about 3-5 minutes, remove the garlic cloves to a cutting board, allow them to cool, and chop them up finely.

Add some tomato paste to the garlicky oil and heat for at least two minutes, stirring it around to break it up and incorporating it into the oil.

Stir in the tomato pulp to the skillet. To avoid splattering, I like to add one ladle full of the pulp, stir it, then add the rest, as well as the chopped garlic from before. Simmer that for at least 5-10 minutes, but preferably longer to develop flavor and allow the sauce to reduce and thicken.

Finally, once the sauce has reduced and thickened to a desirable consistency, turn off the heat. Then, stir in the fresh basil leaves and some butter until the leaves wilt and the butter melts. Serve, or store for later!

How to store homemade tomato sauce

You can store homemade fresh tomato sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about a week, or in the freezer for about six months for best results.

Can I use canned tomatoes?

This sauce recipe calls for fresh tomatoes, but here’s my favorite marinara sauce made with canned crushed tomatoes! It’s a bit easier, if you want something with less prep.

Recipes in which to use fresh tomato sauce

Here are some recipes that call for jarred marinara sauce, but this homemade tomato sauce can just as readily be used!

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Fresh Tomato Sauce with Basil and Garlic

This fresh tomato sauce with basil and garlic is an incredibly simple sauce recipe perfect for topping pasta, serving with meatballs, or using on pizza or flatbreads. Grating the tomatoes on a box grater serves to both crush them and remove them from the skins – no blanching required! With a boost of flavor from adding tomato pasta and infusing garlic flavor into every bite of the sauce, as well as some butter melted in at the very end for richness, you’ll love this easy from-scratch tomato sauce recipe.

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Course: Pasta SauceCuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 15 minutes minutesCook Time: 15 minutes minutesTotal Time: 30 minutes minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 118kcal
Author: Elizabeth Lindemann

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Equipmentdeep skillet or potbox grater
Ingredients4-5 lbs. tomatoes medium – large in size, not cherry or grape tomatoes.¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil2 cloves garlic smashed½ teaspoon crushed red pepper or Aleppo pepper, optional, more or less depending on spice preference.2 tablespoons tomato paste1 teaspoon kosher salt½ cup torn fresh basil leaves1 tablespoon butter optional, but HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
InstructionsPrepare the tomatoes: Slice the 4-5 lbs. tomatoes in half cross-wise (separating the top from the bottom). Squeeze the seeds out, using a spoon to help you scrape them off the surface of the cut-side of the tomato into a bowl or container. Set a box grater over a shallow bowl and grate the inside of the tomato, separating the flesh from the skin. Discard both the seeds and the skin. Place the tomato pulp into a mesh sieve set over a bowl and allow the liquid to drain. Set aside.Heat the ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil in a large deep skillet over low heat. Add the smashed 2 cloves garlic and the ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper, if using. Allow to cook for 3-5 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant and has infused the oil, but not too browned or burned. Remove the garlic cloves with tongs and set aside. Once it’s cooled, chop it up finely.Add the 2 tablespoons tomato paste. Stir into the oil, continuing to cook on low for approximately 2 minutes.Add the tomato pulp into the skillet (I like to start with a ladle of the pulp at first, to prevent too much splattering, then add the rest), and discard the liquid that has drained into bottom of the bowl. Add the 1 teaspoon kosher salt, as well as the chopped garlic from before. Stir together and allow to simmer, uncovered, for at least 5-10 minutes (or until much of whatever liquid remains has evaporated – see notes).Turn off the heat and add the ½ cup torn fresh basil leaves. and the 1 tablespoon butter, if using. Stir in until leaves have wilted and butter has melted completely. Serve with cooked pasta, with meatballs, on pizza, or however else you use tomato sauce.

Notes
The amount of time needed after the tomato pulp is added will depend on a few factors – for example, how much liquid was removed from the tomatoes, how watery they were to begin with, how much time you have available, and your preferences! The longer it simmers, the more concentrated and sweet the flavor will be. Do keep an eye on it, because once the liquid evaporates, the sauce will thicken and may stick to the pot. If this happens, add a little water to loosen it up, and either stop cooking it or add a cover on the pot to continue simmering.
To add a little sweetness to your sauce, which may be necessary with a brief cooking time or if the tomatoes weren’t completely ripe, you can add a little bit of sugar to the sauce. Alternatively, grated carrots are sometimes added to marinara sauce for sweetness – just give them enough time to cook down in the sauce!
Store the sauce in your fridge in an airtight container for about a week, or in the freezer for about six months for best results.

NutritionCalories: 118kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 4mg | Sodium: 347mg | Potassium: 588mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 2110IU | Vitamin C: 32mg | Calcium: 29mg | Iron: 1mg
Nutrition Information DisclaimerThe provided nutrition information is my best estimate and does not include any added sodium from seasoning to taste, any optional ingredients, and it does not take brands into account. I use an automatic API to calculate this information. Feel free to calculate it yourself using one of these tools:
Very Well Fit Nutrition Information Calculator

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