Homemade sauce from canned tomatoes:
Canned tomatoes are a great pantry staple, especially when fresh tomatoes are not in season. They are sold in cans as whole, chopped/diced, crushed, puréed or paste. Always compare labels and choose no added salt or low-sodium options.
If you like smooth tomato sauce, use puréed or crushed tomatoes. If you like chunky, use chopped/diced.
In a large pot over medium heat, sauté chopped onion and garlic in one tablespoon of olive oil. If you like, add diced carrots and celery. Cook for about 10 minutes. Pour in 28 ounces of canned tomatoes, 2 tablespoons tomato paste*, a bay leaf, black pepper and dried oregano. Cook for at least 30 minutes.
If available, mix in fresh chopped basil and cook another 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaf before serving.
*Tomato paste adds extra flavor. Freeze leftover paste in an ice cube tray. Next time you need tomato paste, just pop one frozen tomato cube into your sauce as it cooks.
Homemade oven roasted sauce:
If you have extra time, roasting tomatoes in the oven makes a delicious and sweeter tomato sauce.
If using fresh tomatoes, first peel and seed them. Blanch tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds then into a bowl of ice water. Peel and remove seeds with a knife.
Chop 4 cups of peeled beefsteak, plum or cherry tomatoes; or drain a 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes. Chop up a few cloves of garlic and add fresh or dried thyme leaves.
Mix everything with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and add to a large baking pan. Cook at 350 degrees, stirring occasionally until the tomatoes are cooked through (about 45 minutes.)
Blend together in a blender if you prefer a smoother sauce.
Improve jarred sauce:
You can make store-bought jarred or canned sauce healthier and taste like homemade with a few simple steps:
When buying, choose low-sodium sauce.
Pour into a large pot and add in fresh or low-sodium canned tomatoes, diced green or red peppers, mushrooms, squash or other delicious vegetables.
Add a few shakes of garlic powder, dried oregano, dried basil and black pepper to your taste.
Warm over medium heat for at least 10 minutes.
Use your homemade tomato sauce for:
Pasta / Pizza topping
Tomato or vegetable soup
Baked potato topping