Homemade Tomato Sauce for Any Night of the Week

by Mariana Rufin

After a particularly long and tiring day, evening approaches, and without having had enough time to go grocery shopping the days before, you are faced with a decision: order in and spend a small fortune on delivery fees, or drag yourself to the grocery store and spend an hour or more preparing dinner. Many college students or busy adults may find that this is a recurring situation, and one that usually ends in frustration. While there are many ways to meticulously plan out grocery trips and the preparation of meals days in advance, we propose an easier solution – making this easy recipe for pasta sauce. Pasta and other noodle products are undoubtedly the king of budget friendly meals, and preparing a simple sauce with pantry staples can save time without compromising taste and satisfaction. 

When making this recipe, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, whole tomatoes are preferred over puréed or crushed tomatoes because less processing equates to tastier tomatoes. Additionally, make sure to use this sauce within one week’s time to avoid the presence of unwanted bacteria. Lastly, the best way to reheat this sauce to serve with pasta is to heat it over stove top in a saucepan, add ¼ cup of pasta water (or more if serving lots of people and reheating a significant quantity of sauce), and add the pasta directly into the saucepan.

Simple Tomato Sauce Recipe: 

Yields 3-4 servings 


  • 1 can whole San Marzano tomatoes 
  • 2 tbsp olive oil 
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (optional) 
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic 
  • 1 shallot 
  • ¼ cup red wine 
  • kosher salt
  • cracked pepper
  • red pepper flakes
  • dried thyme
  • dried oregano 
  • ¼ cup brown sugar


  1. In a large saucepan, add finely minced garlic and shallots and sautée over medium low heat in olive oil.
  2. When slightly browned, add the tomato paste and reduce. When the paste starts to smell very strongly of tomatoes, add balsamic vinegar and red wine to deglaze. Stir against the bottom of the pan to get the bits of paste unstuck. *Red wine is suggested for flavor, but deglazing can be done with any kind of liquor or vinegar, broth, or even water. 
  3. Add the full contents of the can of tomatoes and refill the can halfway with water; add that to the saucepan as well. 
  4. Raise heat to medium-high and season to taste. Add the brown sugar, stir to dissolve, and cover the saucepan to let simmer for 10-15 minutes. 
  5. After the sauce has cooled completely, store in a jar or tightly lidded container. The sauce will keep for about one week in the refrigerator.

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