An easy recipe for a small batch of tomato sauce made with onions, carrots, celery, garlic, canned tomatoes and a handful of spices. A recipe that’s full of flavor and wonderful over pasta, chicken or fish.
I grew up in an Irish-Italian household. My dad is Irish and my mom is Italian. Growing up, our Irish heritage was mostly celebrated on St. Patrick’s Day with my family watching the traditional St. Patrick’s Day parade roll down the streets of the Irish Channel in New Orleans. Our Italian side came out every single Sunday at my great-grandmother’s house.
Huge Sunday dinners are pretty common in large Italian-American families. Nella mia casa di bisnonna, or in my great-grandmother’s house, cooking began very early in the morning and went on until we all sat down to eat. The amazing aroma of tomato sauce and other family favorite recipes cooking on the stove could be detected from the driveway.
My mother’s grandmother, Mamma as she was called by all the family, prepared and cooked our traditional Sunday meal. Sure, she had lots of helpful hands in the kitchen and as she got older and became confined to a wheelchair, Mamma supervised the many family cooks in the kitchen, making sure all of the dishes were prepared properly.
One dish I vividly remember from our Sunday dinners was the pasta. Bowls of spaghetti mixed with velvety, rich tomato sauce were always on both ends of the table. Even though we enjoyed other wonderful Italian dishes, the spaghetti and tomato sauce was always the highlight.
My mother also made tomato sauce when I was growing up. I’m pretty sure it was Mamma’s “recipe” because I seem to remember it tasting just as hearty and comforting. My mother never measured ingredients, a pinch here – a palm full there. She knew by feel as many good home cooks do.
She made her tomato sauce with carrots, celery, onions and garlic as the base. As these vegetables cooked and softened, my mother would pour in canned diced tomatoes and spices. She let the sauce simmer to allow the flavors to really come together. Then she finished it with butter and a spoonful or two of honey.
You might be surprised that a good Italian home cook would use canned tomatoes, right? Truth was, my mom worked during the day and using canned was just easier. It didn’t matter a bit, the sauce was always, always fabulous.
I took this tried and true family recipe and scaled it down to a small batch recipe. If you’re cooking for only one or two people, you really may not need (or want) to make a normal sized batch of tomato sauce. This tomato sauce recipe is for you. It makes about 2 cups, enough for one or two meals.
The flavors in this tomato sauce are just as I remember them to be. Use this tomato sauce with your favorite pastas, pizza, chicken or fish.
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- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup chopped onions
- 1/2 cup chopped carrot , (appx. 1 carrot)
- 1/3 cup chopped celery , (appx. 1 celery stalk)
- 2 cloves garlic , minced
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 teaspoon honey
- In a small pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Add the onions, carrots and celery and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, salt and pepper, stir and cook for a minute more.
- Add the tomatoes, basil, oregano and bay leaf and bring to a gentle boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes.
- Remove pot from heat and remove bay leaf.
- Use an immersion blender or a blender and pulse a few times to slightly puree the vegetables. You want the sauce to still have some texture to it, so be careful not to puree completely.
- Add the butter and honey and stir until butter is melted. Taste and season with a pinch of salt, if necessary.
Products used in this recipe…
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