Tomato Sauce

/rantmode on/

A special curse on those damned supermarkets who install special lighting over the tomato section. You know what I mean – their tomatoes glow, glisten, and are bursting with ripeness and flavour!

Except it’s a lie.

You get home, and you see them for what they are – insipid, vapid, tasteless, textureless balls of … fluff. Aye … and the b****y things aren’t even ripe yet.

Thank you … for nothing!

/rantmode off/


/rantmode on/ … again?

A quick, careless, and undercooked tomato sauce tastes raw and harsh. Lots of not-quite-pleasant undertones.

Exactly the same sauce simmered long-and-slow – rich, complex, and mellow.

/rantmode off/


A simple GOOD tomato sauce needs a bit of time, care, balance, and love.  Whether you make it in a sauce pan, or by roasting.



  • 1 onion
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • olive oil
  • Herbs – your call
    • bay leaf
    • oregano, thyme, marjoram – dried or fresh
    • fresh basil
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • tomatoes –
    • 2lb/900g very nice, very ripe tomatoes (don’t keep them in the fridge – let them ripen on your kitchen window sill!)
    • or
        • 2 tins of plum tomatoes;
        • 1 tin of tomatoes, and a box of passata.


      • if it’s all that’s available, 4-5 of your standard British insipid tomatoes, and a good squeeze of tomato puree, and some water.


  • 1 green pepper
  • good glug of wine (or a slosh of water as needed)


  • Chop the onion finely and fry until soft in the oil. Add the finely chopped garlic about half way through. Add the fresh tomatoes, and cook down gently for at least 5 minutes.
  • Season with salt and fresh ground black pepper, and add the tin of tomatoes/passata/tomato puree (with a little water if necessary).
  • Add the herbs. [If you have lots of fresh basil, good to add the chopped stalks and half of the leaves chopped fine now – use the remaining leaves as a final fresh garnish.]
  • Allow to simmer away gently for 20 minutes … or more. Or a lot more. An under-cooked tomato sauce tastes raw and harsh; but a sauce very gently simmered for an hour, stirred occasionally, develops a rich smoothness and a complex depth of flavour.
  • Add the chopped green pepper and cook for 2-3 minutes – no more.
  • Sprinkle on fresh chopped parsley. [OR – if you have used the fresh basil, sprinkle on the rest of your bunch.]

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