Zesty Homemade Tomato Sauce


Recently I cooked a big container of yummy chicken ravioli, however, my store bought marinara sauce just wasn’t cutting it.  What it really needed was my mom’s favorite homemade tomato sauce.  Sadly, her sauce calls for white wine and, being under age, I am not allowed to buy wine (even if I try convincing the cashier that it’s for cooking purposes only).  So I embarked on an endless search for an equally as delicious recipe that does not call for wine.  In the end, I resorted to two different recipes that I have now fused together to make my own twist on a homemade tomato sauce.

I am actually making this sauce ahead of time to be used throughout the week in several dinners and lunches, but it can easily be made the night of (keeping in mind that it has to simmer for at least an hour).

If I were to follow the measurements of the original recipes it would make around 5 or 6 servings.  Seeing that I’m only cooking for myself, I reduced the size of the recipe by about one half, making only 2 to 3 servings.  I have provided the measurements for both the original size and for what I have done (my measurements are shown in parenthesis).



(my measurements for the half-recipe are in parenthesis)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium (small) sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 4 (2-3) cloves of garlic, minced (I like garlic so I used 3 cloves instead of cutting it directly in half)
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes (~1/2 teaspoon or more, I like my sauce spicy)
  • 2 (1) 28 oz cans crushed tomato
  • 1 6 oz. can tomato paste (I only used half the can, and the rest I covered and put in the fridge for a later use)
  • 1 (1/2) teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 (1/2) teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 (1/2) teaspoon sugar
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Fresh basil, coarsely chopped (optional, but highly recommended)


  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat
  2. Add the chopped onion and sauté for one minute, stirring occasionally.  Then add the minced garlic and red pepper flakes and continue to sauté until the onions are translucent, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, dried basil, sugar, salt, and pepper.  Stir to combine.  Then I filled about half the can of tomato paste with water and added the water to the sauce, to make it not so thick.
  4. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, partially covered for about 1 to 2 hours.  (It gets better the longer you let it simmer)
  5. Finish the sauce by adding a handful of fresh basil and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Serve the sauce over your favorite pasta, ravioli, or what have you.  (If you don’t want to use all of the sauce right away, you can store it in the refrigerator for about a week and use it when you please)


The Frugality

So here is the low down of how much this meal really costs (when following my measurements).  I already have all of the spices and olive oil so I did not need to purchase those when shopping for ingredients.  For those who just started cooking and don’t have spices, I can guarantee that you will use them again if you continue making your own home-cooked meals, so don’t be scared away by their prices.

  • Tomato Paste $0.75
  • Crushed Tomatoes $1.55
  • Sweet Onion $0.51
  • Fresh Basil $1.99

With a grand total of only $4.80, each serving only costs about $1.20-1.60 depending on how much sauce you like on your pasta.  Grant it, this doesn’t include the cost of spices and pasta, but as an avid cook I almost always have those ingredients in my cupboards, making this a frugal foodie meal!


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