When you need a fresh-tasting tomato sauce, but don’t have all day to make it, this basic recipe is a great option. Fresh carrots, celery, onion and garlic all brighten – and deepen – the flavor of the canned tomatoes. Perfect served simply over pasta and also ideal for many recipes that call for tomato sauce. We always use it when we make Sausage and Cheese (Not) Stuffed Manicotti

Ingredients for Basic Tomato Sauce

  • 4 T. butter
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 large stalk celery, diced
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 28 oz. can whole, peeled tomatoes (preferably Roma), drained and diced
  • 1 t. Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste


Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the carrots and cook for 3 minutes, then add the celery and onion and continue to cook until all vegetables are very tender and the onion is translucent, about 15 minutes. Be careful not to brown the vegetables. (Tip: you may add a spoonful of warm water to slow the cooking if vegetables start to brown.)

Add the tomatoes, garlic and salt and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce comes to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce is thickened and juices have evaporated, stirring occasionally. This should take about 20 minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt and freshly ground pepper to your liking. For a smoother textured sauce, use a stick blender or potato masher to even out your sauce’s consistency.

Makes about 2.5 cups or 4 – 6 servings.