Tomato Sauce

There are a gazillion recipes for tomato sauce, or Italian sauce, or varieties thereof. And people’s sensitivities can get a little ruffled if you call things ‘Italian’ when Italians would be horrified! I remember seeing Antonio Carluccio on the BBC TV show ‘Two Greedy Italians’ making tomato sauce and being absolutely adamant you do NOT, under any circumstances, put garlic in tomato sauce. And local award winning chef Marco Roccasalvo, of ‘Campo de’ Fiori’ here in Bray, has recipes that are also absent of garlic…but we all consider garlic a ubiquitous Italian ingredient. So let’s just call this ‘Tomato Sauce’ from p.184 of the wonderful ‘Avoca Cafe Cookbook’ (No.1), and not ascribe nationality to it. And It has (of course) some minor tweaks by myself.

Tomato Sauce - Ingredients


2 onions, peeled and finely diced

Olive oil

6 large garlic cloves or equivalent garlic paste

2 X 400g tins of tomatoes. (as always, use good quality whole plum tomatoes and chop or hand blend them)

A glass of red wine. I fill one of the empty tomato tins half way and rinse out the tins with the red wine

Teaspoon sugar. I use unrefined golden cane caster sugar, but any good brown sugar is fine.

50g sundried tomatoes. I finely chop these before adding to the sauce.

Good bunch of fresh basil, chopped


Gently sauté the onions over a low heat until softened. 6-7mins should be enough

Add garlic and stir, cooking for about one minute. Add the red wine, tomatoes, sugar and season well with salt and pepper. Bring up to high heat and then turn down to a simmer until reduced by about a third or more, lid half on…should take about an hour or more. Stir occasionally. Add the sun dried tomatoes and basil, and simmer further for another 10-15 minutes. Blitz a few times with a hand held blender, but don’t ‘liquidise’.

This sauce is fabulous as a base for ragu (or bolognese if you must!), or for meatballs, pizza, etc or just on it’s own with pasta of your choice.


Recipe © Hugo Arnold. Published by Avoca Handweavers Ltd. 2000

This blog post © David Wilkins. Oct 2014


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s