Homemade Tomato Sauce (Recipes Kids Should Know How to Cook Before Leaving Home)
One of the first recipes I learned when I was young was how to make homemade tomato sauce. A family friend named Michael, who grew up in an Italian family in New Jersey, told us that knowing how to make good tomato sauce was not only a necessity but easy, too!
It’s amazing to me that all these years later I can picture Michael whipping up a batch of tomato sauce, explaining how to make it as he went. I think one of the reasons learning how to make tomato sauce stuck with me was because it was the first time I felt empowered as a cook, realizing that I didn’t necessarily need an exact recipe to make something delicious. Michael simply explained how to make the sauce, without any precise measurements, and then told us we could do it, too.
Now that I’m the adult teaching my children how to cook, I want them to have a similar experience learning about cooking from me. And what better place to start than with homemade tomato sauce? My daughter Cate and I spent an afternoon recently making sauce, with Cate doing all of the cooking while I gave instructions from the sideline. Her sauce came out beautifully and we used it for pasta and homemade pizza! Cate and I kept track of how much of each ingredient we put in the sauce so we could share exactly what we did with all of you, but of course feel free to experiment and let your inner cook shine!
Homemade Tomato Sauce Recipe
Makes appx. 3 cups of sauce
- 26-ounce carton diced or rough cut tomatoes
- 1/4 of an onion, chopped (if you haven’t chopped onions before, have an adult help you the first few times!)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 fresh garlic cloves, minced or pushed through a garlic press (if you haven’t minced fresh garlic before, have an adult help you the first few times!) OR 1/2 teaspoon jarred minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil or 1 tablespoon fresh basil, coarsely chopped (it doesn’t need to be perfect!)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- In a medium pot, heat olive oil over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. The pan should be hot and the oil should look thinner when you swirl it around the pan.
- Add chopped onion to the oil and cook, stirring regularly, until onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic, give it a quick stir, then add the rest of the ingredients. If you are using fresh basil, however, do not add the basil at this point.
- Bring sauce to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium low (on a dial marked 1-10 for low-high, this would be around 3) and let cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. You may want to put a lid on the pot to avoid splattering sauce on the stovetop. There isn’t an exact time for simmering, you just want to give it some time for the flavors to come together, so anywhere between 5-10 minutes should work.
- If using fresh basil, add the basil at the end of cooking. Serve with pasta or use as pizza sauce.