Homemade Tomato Pasta Sauce

Homemade Tomato Pasta Sauce

I began making this tomato sauce in my second year of university, when I started having to cook for myself all the time (a happy day, truthfully—no more dining hall meal plan!). I could make this sauce and have a quick pasta dinner before getting back to whatever studying (procrastinating) I had to do. And, there was plenty leftover that I could divide between the fridge and freezer for future meals.

I think that this recipe was originally based on something I found in a Canadian Living cookbook, but I’ve well and truly adapted it to my own tastebuds. Storebought tomato sauce does the trick when you’re in a real hurry or if you’re just going to bake it into a tortilla stack or lasagna, but is pretty bland otherwise (and more expensive than making this sauce considering the quantity it makes!). Be sure to tweak this recipe to your liking until it’s absolutely mouthwatering!

Homemade Tomato Pasta Sauce

Makes: 6-8 servings
Cooking time: 20 minutes prep, about an hour total
Difficulty: Easy


  • 2 16oz/400ml tins of diced tomatoes, undrained, one tin half-filled with water
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large carrot, grated or chopped small
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 large handful mushrooms, chopped
  • 5 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup white or red wine
  • 2-3 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp each Worcestershire sauce and balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp each oregano and basil
  • 1/4 tsp each paprika and cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt and pepper to taste
  • optional: 1lb/500g lean ground beef
  • grated cheddar or parmesean cheese, to serve

In a medium-large saucepan, heat about 1 tbsp olive oil and add onion and garlic, saute just until onion softens and begins to turn golden. Add zucchini and mushrooms, saute a few more minutes until mushrooms have begun to release their moisture and zucchini is starting to soften. Add the carrot, tins of diced tomato, water, wine, tomato paste, and spices. Stir well to combine all ingredients.

Bring your sauce to a very low simmer, and cook on low heat for 30-40 minutes, until all vegetables are cooked through and are going quite soft. Taste and adjust spices, sugar, salt, and balsamic to your liking. If you’re adding beef to the sauce, get everything into the pot so the spices have time to work their magic while you brown the meat just until you can see no pink. Drain any excess fat juices, then stir beef into your slowly simmering sauce.

Serve on pasta of your choice with a bit (or a lot) of cheese on top. If you have some of this sauce in the freezer, it makes a great backup dinner for when you have friends crash at your place when they just can’t take another hour studying in the library, or when everyone gets snowed in at SFU. (Right, Megan and Deanne? Hehe.)

Note: You can store this sauce in jars in your fridge, but as per normal leftovers, plan to use it within 3-4 days. This sauce lasts for 2-3 months in the freezer. I just used my decorated jars for the photos. 🙂

2 Responses to Homemade Tomato Pasta Sauce

  1. I sure like the idea of a bit of added sugar. It keeps the sauce from being too acidic, but doesn’t make it sweet at all.

  2. Mm, yes, the sugar in this recipe is essential! I sometimes even add an extra teaspoon or two, because it mellows out the tomatoes so well.

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