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Home-made Tomato Sauce

A versatile tomato sauce that can be used for many other recipes
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Course: Main Course
Keyword: Sauce, Tomato, Tomato sauce
Author: Melanie Blignaut


  • 1,5 kg ripe plum or Roma tomatoes or 3 tins of whole peeled tomatoes
  • ½ onion (chopped very finely) optional
  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed) or more if you prefer
  • 15 ml olive oil
  • 10 - 15 ml sugar
  • 10 ml dried basil
  • 10 ml dried chilli flakes optional
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 80 - 125 ml red wine optional


  • Cut the ends off the tomatoes and cut into quarters.
  • Place in a food processor or blender and process until it forms a pulp.
  • Heat olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan and fry the onions and garlic over medium heat until the onion is translucent.
  • Add the tomato pulp and bring to a slow simmer.
  • Add the sugar, basil, chilli and salt and pepper.
  • Add the red wine if you are using it. If you prefer not to add wine you can add a similar quantity of low sodium stock or just water.
  • Let the sauce simmer on low for about 20 minutes stirring every few minutes. The sauce should reduce by about half.
  • Taste the sauce when it has reached the consistency you prefer (eg quite liquid for pasta sauce or thicker for pizza base). Adjust the seasoning if necessary (tinned tomatoes are sometimes more tart than fresh tomatoes).
  • Serve warm over cooked pasta or reserve for use in other recipes.


  • I like to add onion to my tomato sauce as it gives another layer of flavour, but I have also made perfectly delicious sauce without onion.
  • If you are using whole tinned tomatoes, you might have to help the whole tomatoes to break down while stirring the simmering sauce. You can also let the sauce cool down and use a stick blender or food processor to get the desired consistency.
  • If you are after complex flavours, you can use alternative sweetener such as chutney, sweet-chilli sauce or even tomato jam. If you want to keep clear of added sugar you can use artificial sweetener or a natural sweetener like stevia.
  • A little bit of chilli added early in the cooking process doesn't make the sauce spicy, but just gives it a bit of heat and depth of flavour. You could of course turn the sauce into a spicy tomato sauce by adding more dried chilli, peri-peri, or fresh, chopped chilli.
  • The red wine is also a flavour enhancer and takes the sauce to another level altogether.
  • If you are not using the sauce for another specific recipe, it benefits from a final addition of fresh chopped parsley or basil, but you might not want the visible herbs in a sauce used for Patatas Bravas for instance.
  • Once you have this basic sauce, it's quite easy to upgrade it to a Creamy Tomato Pasta Sauce, Tomato Sauce for Pap & Wors, or try creating iconic favourites such as Eggplant Parmigiana and Patatas Bravas.