Garden Fresh Tomato Sauce

Garden tomatoes. Pungent garlic. Fresh basil. Sprinkle of salt. Touch of pepper. And olive oil.

That’s it. Those are the ingredients. No more.

Insanely tasty tomato sauce.

Garden fresh. Bright. Naturally sweet.

Tastes like summer days.

It’s not too bitter, not  too sweet, not too onion-y, not too peppery, not too many veggies.

It’s just right. It’s perfect.

Who would have thought that such simplicity would reign so supreme?

So satisfying.

So tantalizing.

This is the recipe I’ve searched high and low for. I’ve tried tons of store-bought tomato sauces as well as have made tons of my own from both canned tomatoes and fresh tomatoes. This one ranks as the best I’ve discovered thus far. Even better: it is the easiest!

Using the last harvest of our summer tomatoes, I quickly whipped this up…well, minus the blanching and peeling stages, but even that doesn’t take long with only two pounds of tomatoes.

Try it. I beg you. It’s worth the minimal effort.

And if you don’t have garden tomatoes, please oh please oh please, don’t buy the bland, tasteless grocery store imitations of tomatoes. Go to a local farmer’s market and buy the real thing. Trust me, it will make all the difference.

Garden Fresh Tomato  Sauce

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  • 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 lbs. ripe beefsteak tomatoes (about 4 large), cored, peeled, and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • ground black pepper


  1. To prepare tomatoes, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. In the meantime, fill a large bowl with some ice and water. Then, cut out the cores of the tomatoes, followed by slicing an X into the bottom of each. Immerse the tomatoes in the boiling water for about 2 minutes, until the skins begin to loosen. Remove tomatoes and place in the cold water until cool enough to handle. Now you can easily peel off the skin. Cut into 3/4-inch chunks and set aside until ready to place in skillet. (Check out Food in Jars for photos & directions for blanching/peeling tomatoes)
  2. Stir olive oil and garlic together in a large skillet. Turn heat to medium and cook until garlic is sizzling and fragrant, about 2 minutes. (Starting the oil and garlic in the pan at the same time prevents the garlic from burning.)
  3. Stir in tomatoes and 1/2 tsp. salt. Bring to a rapid simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, reducing heat if sauce begins to stick to bottom of pan, until thickened and chunky, 15-20 minutes. (I used a potato masher to smush my tomatoes a bit. Totally optional.)
  4. Remove from heat. Stir in basil and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. If your tomatoes aren’t as sweet as you’d like, add a pinch of sugar to the sauce.

Yield: 2 cups–enough for 1 lb. of pasta


Sauce can be frozen. Cool it completely, first. Transfer to a 2-cup freezer-safe container. Press a layer of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the sauce, cover, and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost in the microwave or in the refrigerator overnight.

If you double the recipe, increase the cooking time to about 30 minutes.


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