My husband and I disagree when it comes to spaghetti sauce. I like mine a little on the chunky side, while he wants no reminder whatsoever that he’s eating vegetables.
But we both agree that freshly made spaghetti sauce beats the pants—lids?—off of jarred tomato sauce. Especially when the produce came from your own backyard. And how could it not? Freshly picked tomatoes, basil still warm from the summer sun…and if you thought far enough ahead, garlic and onions that made it through the winter and into your kitchen.
What? Oh! Spaghetti sauce. Yeah. This is a smoother sauce, so if your spouse or kids—or you know, YOU—like spaghetti sauce a little on the chunkier side, add some diced or chunks of tomato when you add the tomato pulp, and maybe don’t dice the onions so small.
A few notes…
The kind of tomato you use matters. This recipe uses Roma tomatoes, and you can use pretty much any firm, fleshy tomato (San Marzano, etc.). Just know that if you use slicing tomatoes—the round kind you would usually imagine, like beefsteaks—those have a higher water content and your sauce may wind up a lot thinner.
Some equipment may be necessary. I use a tomato press here to remove the skins and seeds. If you don’t have one, they’re not terribly expensive. I got my tomato press from Williams-Sonoma for about $40 and it’s made my life way easier. No boiling, no dicing—though I do slice them in half to cut down on the splatter and make sure the innards are pest and disease free. Want more tomato press tips and tricks? I got you.
This sauce saves beautifully. Freeze it flat in quart-size bags, or can it using a water bath method. Just be sure to add a little citric acid to discourage the growth of harmful bacteria (1/4 tsp per pint or 1/2 tsp per quart).
Homemade Spaghetti Sauce
10 lbs Roma tomatoes, halved (40-50, depending on their size)
7-10 cloves garlic, to taste
2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
2/3 C + 2 Tbsp + 1 Tbsp olive oil, divided
6 Tbsp (a few handfuls) fresh or frozen basil, less if using dried
2 sprigs oregano
2 sprigs thyme
2 whole bay leaves
1 Tbsp sea salt (or more to taste)
Halve tomatoes and run through tomato press to sift out seeds and skin. I recommend you run the remains through the tomato press an additional 1-2 times (for a total of 3 passes). It’s amazing how much more juice and pulp comes out.
Add 2 Tbsp olive oil to large stock pot, but DO NOT HEAT. Mince garlic and add to oil. Let the oil rest and infuse while chopping onion. Once onion is chopped, heat oil and garlic over medium heat until garlic just starts to sizzle (about 20-30 seconds). Do not brown or it’ll go bitter. Add onions and saute, stirring frequently, until transparent and slightly golden; approximately 10 minutes.
While onions are cooking, add remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil, basil, oregano and thyme to food processor, and combine until a paste forms. Add tomato pulp, olive oil, and herb paste to onions, along with the whole bay leaf. Increase heat to bring tomato sauce to a boil, then reduce heat to low so it can simmer.
HINT: If it’s actively boiling/sputtering after a few minutes, the heat is still too high, so turn it down a bit more or you’ll end up with tomato paste.
Simmer 45 minutes to 1 hour uncovered, then add salt, stir well, and give it a taste. Not salty enough? Add more salt in 1/2 teaspoon increments until you’re happy. Remember: You can always add more salt, but you can’t take it out once it’s in there. Cover and simmer until desired thickness is reached, then remove from heat.
(I cover it during the last bit to keep it from reducing much more, but if yours seems too watery still, leave the lid off.)
If canning, turn off heat and let it cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to clean canning jars and process. If freezing, allow the sauce to cool a little longer (15-20 minutes) and ladle into freezer bags. Makes about 2 quarts.
How’d your sauce turn out?? Delicious, I hope! Leave a reply and let me know.