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Posted on Wed, Sep 14, 2011 : 4:49 p.m.

Quick and easy garden tomato sauce

By Jessica Webster


This quick and easy red sauce makes great use of garden herbs and tomatoes.

Jessica Webster |

As much as I wish I were a gardener and talk a good gardening game, my successes in the garden are generally pretty much limited to herbs, peppers, squash and tomatoes. My gardening experiences vary from year to year; this year has been a banner year for squash and tomatoes.

I’ve been challenged to find a way to incorporate all the squash into meals, but the tomatoes have been a tremendous inspiration. It feels so decadent to be able to walk out into my back yard and pick almost everything I need for dinner from my own garden. (Which is kind of funny, since it would seem that eating food transported from California, Peru and beyond is really the ultimate in decadence.)

The San Marzano plum tomato plants I bought at the farmers market have been incredibly prolific, and they are suddenly (finally) ripening at a furious pace. I know I should be canning them, but that whole process scares and confuses me.

So instead, we’ve been eating the tomatoes as fast as I can pick them. Tomatoes with eggs for breakfast. Tomato soup. Roasted tomatoes. And lots and lots and lots of tomato sauce.

This is my regular, tried-and-true favorite fresh tomato sauce recipe. It’s quick and light and easy. I don’t bother with removing the tomato skins — instead I quickly run the sauce through the blender to get it smooth. If you’re working with tomatoes with a thick skin, or if you really don’t like tomato skin, you can always blanch and peel your tomatoes before making this sauce.

The recipe calls for dried pasta, but if you’re looking for a lower carb or gluten-free meal, this recipe works great with spaghetti squash.

Quick and easy garden tomato sauce


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 cup diced onions

  • 8 or more cloves garlic, thinly sliced

  • 1/2 cup white wine

  • 1 -2 teaspoons red pepper flakes

  • a small handful each of basil and oregano

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • 15-20 plum tomatoes (approximately 2 pounds), cored and roughly chopped

  • 1 pound dry pasta

  • optional: freshly grated Parmesan


  1. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil.

  2. Set a large deep skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil, and then cook the onions and garlic, stirring regularly, until the onions are soft and translucent.

  3. Add the red pepper flakes, basil, oregano and salt and pepper and cook for 30 seconds or so.

  4. Add the tomatoes to the skillet, and stir intermittently. After a couple of minutes, add the white wine. Turn the heat down to med-low and let the sauce simmer for ten to fifteen minutes, then remove from heat.

  5. Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the box. I like to cook the pasta a minute short of the recommended time so that the pasta is still al dente after being tossed with the warm sauce.

  6. For a smoother sauce consistency, carefully pour or spoon it into a blender or food processor and process until smooth.

  7. Pour the sauce back into the skillet and combine it with the cooked pasta. Serve immediately with freshly grated Parmesan if desired.

Jessica Webster leads the Food & Grocery section for You can reach her at


Patrick Haggood

Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 4:36 p.m.

If you really hate skinning tomatoes, the simplest solution is to toss a bunch of tomatoes in the freezer. When they're hard as billiard balls, you can then run cool water against them and the skins pretty much fall off. Then toss the naked tomatoes into a crock pot and they'll melt into a really good sauce.

Jessica Webster

Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 7:05 p.m.

Thanks for the idea, Patrick. I'm usually cooking them minutes after I pick them, but I will keep this in mind. Do you put them in a zip lock bag before they go in the freezer?


Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 5:29 a.m.

If you don't peel and core the tomatoes before chopping them, this is likely to be bitter. At best, you'll get regular mouthfuls of papery skin and chewy core. I also think the sauce needs to cook down for a lot more than 15 minutes.

Jessica Webster

Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 7 p.m.

I should have specified that the tomatoes should be cored, and will make that adjustment. But I've made this sauce 4 times in the past two weeks and have had no problems at all with a bitter taste or papery skin. There was almost no evidence of skin after I blended the sauce, in fact.

Ron Granger

Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 3:14 a.m.

Those are either really big noodles, or that's a really tiny portion ;-)

Jessica Webster

Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 6:52 p.m.

It's bucatini, Ron. :)


Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 2:16 a.m.

Thank You for the recipe. I have tons of tomatoes, and I was hoping to find a good recipe for sauce. I can't wait to try it!

Sarah Rigg

Wed, Sep 14, 2011 : 2:04 p.m.

Sounds good! I haven't had good luck making quick tomato sauce on the stove - it turns out too watery for my taste. However, I recently made homemade tomato sauce in the crockpot with tomatoes from my farm share and from my own garden, as well as basil I grew myself, and the slow-cook process really made it rich and tasty. I've got a big freezer bag full of the sauce socked away for later this fall.

Jessica Webster

Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 7:01 p.m.

I haven't had a problem with the sauce being watery, but that could be because I am using San Marzano tomatoes. Have you tried seeding the tomatoes before you cook them?