Quick Bites from Pender

Basic Tomato Sauce – Culinary School Recipe

In Lessons From Cooking School, Recipes on March 2, 2010 at 4:51 am


Tomato Sauce is one of the 5 Basic, or Mother, Sauces as classified by Escoffier.

A good tomato sauce is thick, rich and full of flavour.  This recipe fulfills all 3 criteria in just over 30 minutes – contrary to what you may have been told, you don’t have to simmer a tomato sauce for 3 hours to get maximum taste.

(I know.  I was surprised too.)


If you don’t have a glass of red wine leftover from last night, use chicken or vegetable stock to develop a deeply flavoured sauce.  Use the best canned tomatoes you can find.  Italian Romas were Chef P’s favourite.

This is a perfect sauce for a simple spaghetti, homemade pizza, or finish with some cream and parmesan for a big bowl of warming comfort.

Basic Tomato Sauce

Yield:  Approx 3 cups

Onion, coarsely chopped 1 med.
Carrot, coarsely chopped 1 med.
Celery, coarsely chopped 2 med. stalks
Olive Oil 2 T
Garlic, minced 2 cloves
Red Wine (optional) 1 cup 250 ml
Canned Tomatoes 28 fl oz 796 ml
Tomato Paste 2 T 30 ml
Bouquet Garnii, tied in cheesecloth (or in a tea ball) 5 peppercorns, 2 sprigs thyme, 3 sprigs parsley, 1 bay leaf
Dried Oregano, Basil TT
Sugar TT

C=cup       T=tablespoon        ml=millilitres     oz=ounce
TT=to taste

Strain the tomatoes and reserve the juice.  Using your hands, pull apart the tomatoes and discard as many seeds as possible.  Set the tomatoes and juice aside.

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion, carrot and celery and sweat until translucent – 3 to 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Deglaze with the red wine and simmer until reduced by half.

Add the tomatoes, reserved juice, paste and bouquet garnii.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and SLOW simmer for 30 minutes.  Remove from heat and remove the bouquet garnii.

Puree the sauce in a food mill fitted with the coarse plate.  Return to a clean pan over low heat and season with dried herbs and s+p.  If the sauce is too acidic, balance with sugar to taste.  Serve immediately or cool for storage.  Will keep 5 days, covered, in the fridge.

  1. I always wondered why some recipes for a tomato sauce call for sugar. Personally I’ve had a tomato sauce that did have sugar added and it was awful. Maybe just too much. Is the purpose soley to cut the acidity? Also, is the addition of ground meat to a tomato sauce = a Bolognese?

    • As far as I know, sugar is used to cut the acidity. I suspect that this is a North American adaptation, as most of our supermarket brands of canned tomatoes are substandard in the eyes of every European chef I’ve ever worked with. I rarely use sugar — and never more than a teaspoon.

      As for a Bolognese, it is a regional Italian tomato sauce, whereas the recipe here is a classic French sauce. A Bolognese is made using mirepoix (onion, carrot, celery), meat (traditionally veal, beef & pork), milk, wine or stock, and tomatoes. It is simmered for 3 or more hours. I make a pretty mean Bolognese — look for the recipe coming soon!

  2. Thanks Theresa, I’ll look forward to your Bolognese. I would also really like to find a simple/quick Alfredo cream sauce recipe that doesn’t compromise flavour.

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