Easy, Homemade Tomato Sauce (52 New Foods, Week 14) April 10 2012, 6 Comments

That’s amore! No longer will plates be brimming over with boring buttered pasta. Enjoy a boost of color with this deliciously easy, homemade tomato sauce that will have your whole family singing the praises of simple Italian cooking.

My grandmother and her sisters were amazing cooks. Growing up in a traditional Italian family, as young women they learned the art of simple Italian cooking. Learning to cook and enjoying food was at the heart of the family experience. Each one had a specialty and worked it to perfection. I’ve never experienced anything quite like my grandmother’s homemade tomato sauce – but I guess it’s hard to replace what was a delicious, handcrafted weeknight staple at our house. You can imagine my shock and dismay when my daughter announced, “I don’t like tomato sauce!”

Feature Recipe: Grandma Yola’s Homemade Tomato Sauce

Buttered pasta and pizza without sauce just doesn’t cut it in my books! To get my daughter past her picky palate, I needed to bring her into the inner circle. Like my grandmother patiently taught me, it was time for me to teach my daughter the secrets of how to make a deliciously simple homemade tomato sauce. I certainly don’t have time on weeknights to whip up a homemade sauce. What I love about this recipe is that you can make it ahead, and enjoy the fruits of your labor in different dishes all week long. The sauce can be used for dressing homemade pizza, pasta, and chicken dishes – saving busy parents time and making weeknight dinners a breeze!

Grandma Yola’s Homemade Tomato Sauce

homemade tomato sauce

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: about 2 hours
Makes about 16 to 20 servings


5 28oz cans, Italian packed tomatoes
1 28oz can, tomato juice
½ large white onion, finely chopped
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
3 slices extra fine prosciutto
1 slice pancetta, cut into ½ inch pieces
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
½ tsp marjoram
1 tsp sugar
A few handfuls of fresh basil and parsley
Salt and pepper to taste


1)    Over a large mixing bowl, run the tomatoes through a food mill with the finest sieve attachment (no seeds allowed!).

2)    Add the tomato juice to the strained tomatoes. Set aside.

3)    In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat.

4)    Fry the pancetta until crisp, then remove.

5)    Fry the prosciutto.

6)    Reduce heat, add the garlic, then the onions and shallots.

7)    Add the marjoram and sugar. Mix well.

8)    Add the tomato mixture to the pot. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Bring to a strong boil.

9)    Add a handful of parsley and a few twigs of basil.

10)  When the sauce reaches a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

11)  Serve with whole-wheat pasta and top with a sprig of fresh basil.

Cooking tip: If you’re lucky enough to have fresh tomatoes from your garden, chop them into ½” dice and add a cup or two to the sauce during the last 20 minutes of simmering. This is a great way to add fresh, seasonal veggies to your delicious, homemade sauce.

Crunch a Color Kids Vote: Delicioso!

What we liked: Making homemade tomato sauce is a wonderful Sunday afternoon activity. Together, we gathered our fresh ingredients and spent the day sizzling, simmering and stirring up a delicious meal. Putting my daughter in charge of the dish, and letting her add a few of her special touches like parsley from her garden, was the key. She proudly served her carefully prepared meal at our family dinner, and was eager to give tomato sauce another chance. Arrivederci bland white pasta, ciao ciao colorful, authentic Italian homemade tomato sauce!

What is your favorite Italian dish? Share your comments!

Next up: Italian Chicken

Chicken Parmesan is the perfect partner at any Italian dinner, but I was looking for a healthier alternative. Next up: a simple Italian chicken recipe that is so tasty you won’t miss the cheese and breadcrumbs!

Craving more new recipes to try? Catch up on last week’s recipe: Kale chips.

About the author: Jennifer Tyler Lee is a mom of two children and the creator of Crunch a Color™ -- the award-winning game that makes healthy eating fun. Like most parents, she struggled to get her kids to eat healthy, balanced meals, so she decided to make it into a healthy eating game and she’s giving back to support non-profit children’s nutrition programs including Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and FoodCorps. Watch her picky eaters tell the story of how they turned into healthy eaters playing the game. Follow @crunchacolor on Facebook and Twitter to tune into Crunch a Color's healthy eating adventure and Jennifer’s tips and kid-friendly, easy recipes.