Free time is in short supply these days. It always seems like there’s so much to do and little to no spare time for any of us. “I don’t have enough time for that,” is what most people says when they see my recipes. I get it. Not everyone enjoys spending time in the kitchen like I do, and even if they want to, life gets in the way. Why make a tomato sauce from scratch when you can buy a perfectly good one from the store? Trust me, I understand.
I wish everyone had more time to stop, take a breath, and do little things like create from scratch. Not necessarily cook, just whatever brings joys. So many people I talk to these days sound tired, drained, and uninspired. I often fall into this category as well. When did everything get so hectic? Is this why every year seems to go by faster? Is this why 40 seems to be closing in on me at a freakishly quick rate?
Making tomato sauce from scratch isn’t going to keep me from aging, but any moment that forces me to slow down for a moment and simply… be… I’m going to take it.
This is a good all-purpose sauce to use with pasta, on pizza, or as a base for other more elaborate sauces. There’s nothing fancy about it. I used dates instead of sugar for some added sweetness, but they cook down into nothing. Feel free to stick with sugar; that will work fine as well.
- 1-2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3½ - 4 cups finely chopped yellow onion
- 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
- 5-6 finely chopped dates (see notes)
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 6 cups strained tomatoes
- 1½ tablespoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, plus more to taste
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
- Optional: ⅛ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- In a large Dutch oven or saucepan, warm the olive oil over medium-low heat (use just enough to coat the bottom of the pan). Add the onions, garlic and dates along with a pinch of salt. Cook for 3-5 minutes until translucent, stirring periodically, then add the tomato paste. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, then add the strained tomatoes, salt, pepper, oregano, and crushed red pepper, if using.
- Stir, then cover and simmer on low/medium-low for at least 30 minutes or up to one hour. The longer the sauce cooks, the better the flavor of the sauce will be.
- Remove from the heat and adjust seasonings, if desired.
Oregano is a great all-purpose sauce ingredient that will translate will into a pizza sauce. If you know this sauce will be used for pasta, try adding in some chopped fresh basil as well!