Simple Tomato Sauce

by Erica Dinho on February 20, 2010

Pasta with Tomato sauce is a classic dish and I think that everyone should have a good tomato sauce recipe. This one is simple and easy to make and is delicious!

Growing up in Colombia, the only tomato sauce that I had was from a jar, so when I met my husband, whose grandmothers were Italian, I realized that I needed to make a homemade tomato sauce for him. He can pretty much eat pasta with tomato sauce every day and be happy!

One day when we first met, I wanted to surprise him with a nice Italian dinner, so I made a delicious tomato sauce, so I thought. As he began eating it, he made a strange face and asked me what I put in the sauce? I told him the list of ingredients… tomatoes, garlic, cilantro… “Cilantro?!” he said. “No wonder why it tastes like salsa. You don’t put cilantro in tomato sauce!” He has been making fun of me for that ever since.

It is so normal for me to add cilantro to every dish, that I though it was going to be delicious. What he doesn’t know is that I forgot to add cumin ;-) Anyway, after that Colombian-Italian tomato suace, I made a variety of different tomato sauce recipes until I came out with this one just recently and he said that this is the best tomato sauce that he has ever had. Enjoy!



  • 4(28oz) cans whole tomatoes
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • Salt and pepper
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 oz basil leafs


Place the tomatoes in a large pot over medium heat. Add salt, pepper, oregano and sugar. Cook for about 15 minutes, then using a potato masher, press them gently.

Reduce the heat to medium- low and add the garlic. Simmer for about 1 hour, then using the masher again, press until obtain the consistency desired.

Add the basil and olive oil and continue simmering for about 1 1/2 hour more.

Serve with your favorite pasta.

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Bo February 20, 2010 at 2:54 PM

That looks so delicious.


2 Simply Life February 20, 2010 at 4:05 PM

I’m saving this recipe as I still haven’t figured out how to make a good sauce!


3 Sandra g February 20, 2010 at 4:07 PM

Thanks For The Recipe Erica, I was always afraid of making a tomato sauce, because it always seemed so complicated, one of my Italian friends sauce takes the whole day to make!


4 Anna February 20, 2010 at 4:16 PM

I can see why he was surprised, cilantro is not a hit for the Italians. But if tasted like salsa wasn’t that bad, right? It looks very yummy and garlicky. :-)


5 Erica February 20, 2010 at 4:25 PM

Thank all for the comments :)


6 Joan Nova February 20, 2010 at 4:39 PM

Very funny. Yes, as tasty as cilantro and cumino are, you must leave them out of Italian dishes.


7 Chris February 20, 2010 at 6:34 PM

Hilarious story and great lesson learned.

I’d use cilantro a lot more but my older son has that “cilantro tastes like soap” gene. He can taste it even when I sneak it in. It’s one of my favorite flavors but usually only finds its way into dishes I’m only making for myself and Alexis or as a garnish.


8 rebecca subbiah February 20, 2010 at 9:47 PM

looks great we all need to make it from scratch so much better


9 Joy February 20, 2010 at 10:04 PM

It is hot and tiring in Melbourne today and this just seemed a perfect post to link to on fb Comfort Food.


10 Kim February 20, 2010 at 10:22 PM

Very cute story about the cilantro. I love cilantro, so I could probably eat it in a tomato sauce. I like that you use 8 cloves of garlic in your sauce. It looks gorgeous.


11 Joanne February 21, 2010 at 8:56 AM

You are so right that everyone needs a good version of tomato sauce. And even though it’s not traditional, I am going to try the whole cilantro addition. It might be heresy. But I don’t care. I love that herb so much.


12 norma February 21, 2010 at 9:15 AM

Funny story….I will add this sauce to my list


13 Erica February 21, 2010 at 9:21 AM

Thank you everyone for visiting!


14 Fearless Kitchen February 21, 2010 at 11:21 AM

I see no problem using cilantro in sauce. While it’s not traditional for us Italians, it’s still tasty! I like your more recent version too, though. :)


15 nora@ffr February 21, 2010 at 12:40 PM

soo easy and simple!!!! id love to tryyy!!! yummmmmmmm


16 grace February 21, 2010 at 1:09 PM

meh., so it might not be the most traditional thing, but i’d love cilantro in my spaghetti sauce. i also add it to everything, from a regular ol’ salad to a bowl of grits. :)


17 Oysterculture February 21, 2010 at 1:45 PM

Did you tell him it was neuvo tomato sauce – you were just on the cutting edge of Italian cooking? Love the recipe and the stories.


18 Faith February 21, 2010 at 4:34 PM

What a cute story! Homemade tomato sauce is so much better than the pre-made sauce…and your recipe looks great! I left an award for you here: anediblemosaic :)


19 Erica February 21, 2010 at 4:56 PM

Thank you all for the comments!

Faith- Thank you so much for the award :)


20 Velva February 21, 2010 at 8:34 PM

You are right Erica, everyone needs a good tomato sauce recipe. This one that you posted was a keeper. Your recipe is a good reminder that tomato sauce is a good simple recipe and is delicious.

btw, pretty funny about the cilantro. :-)


21 Barbara Bakes February 21, 2010 at 9:52 PM

It does look like a great pasta sauce – thick, red and delicious!


22 Sook @ My Fabulous Recipes February 21, 2010 at 11:13 PM

What a great tomato sauce recipe!! I love my sauce simple, too. Looks delish!


23 Michelle February 21, 2010 at 11:49 PM

Good for you making your own sauce! I’ve made my own for years now and even can my own tomatoes. I can imagine your husband’s surprise when he expected an Italian Tomato Sauce and it was flavored with cilantro! :))


24 Erica February 22, 2010 at 7:22 AM

Thank you guys :)


25 Chef E February 22, 2010 at 11:57 AM

I love it, cutting edge is… you are Colombian and he is Italian- I have a friend who is Phillipino and her husband is half Puerto Rican/Colombian- now there is some wild food coming out of her kitchen! I am making pasta sauce for dinner, you talked me into it!

They are right, I love reading your stories!


26 Robert G. February 22, 2010 at 1:32 PM

Oh my gosh! That is such a funny story about the cilantro in the sauce. When I went to visit some cousins in Bogota a few years back I wanted to make them dinner so I called for the store to deliver Salsa de Tomate (Tomato Sauce) which to them meant KETCHUP! They did have a tiny tube of tomato paste so it helped but the spaghetti was kinda sweet.


27 Maria Elena February 22, 2010 at 8:52 PM

I’m Colombian too and was married to an Italian for 15 years. Learned to cook Italian food from his mother (the best cook ever)…and have to admit I’m glad to know I was not the only one to make a mistake like that. After that first tomato sauce she took me under her wing and taught me all I had to learn about good Italian food.


28 Soma February 23, 2010 at 12:32 PM

LOL .. I can totally understand the cilantro thing.. :-) Yes a classic sauce and very versatile too.


29 Karen February 23, 2010 at 4:59 PM

I think cilantro would be good in tomato sauce, but I guess it’s all what you’re used to and what you ‘expect’ a dish to taste like. When I was first married, many years ago, I had never made gravy before. I made some one night and it was so gray that I used food coloring.. a mixture of green and red (hoping to make brown) but it turned out green. Haha! We still laugh about that… my green gravy!


30 Erica February 27, 2010 at 2:38 PM

Thank you all for the comments and for visiting my blog!


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