Classic tomato sauce

Classic tomato sauce

What's for Dinner?
10 mins
Cooking time
15 mins
Gorta Yuuki

This recipe is a really simple, classic tomato sauce. Serve over penne for an easy meal or with a filled tortellini or ravioli to add more flavour.


Quantity Ingredient
400g pasta of your choice, such as penne or linguine
olive oil, for cooking
1 onion, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
6 tomatoes, diced
or 400g tinned chopped tomatoes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
chopped herbs, such as basil and flat-leaf parsley


  1. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil over high heat. Add a good pinch of salt.
  2. Add the pasta to the saucepan of boiling water and stir until the water has returned to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pan and cook the pasta at a fast simmer for 8 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Add a splash of oil and the onion and cook for 3–4 minutes, stirring often, until it softens slightly.
  4. Add the garlic and cook for a further 1–2 minutes, or until the garlic is fragrant. Add the tomato paste and cook briefly before adding the tomatoes. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and cook for 5–8 minutes, stirring often. When the sauce has thickened to the desired consistency, check the seasoning and add the salt and pepper and fresh herbs, to taste.
  5. Check that the pasta is cooked, then drain well and toss with the tomato sauce.


  • Tomato sauce with bacon Cook the onion for 3–4 minutes. Add 150 g diced bacon (or pancetta or salami), cook for 4–5 minutes, then continue as described.

    Tomato sauce with mushrooms Cook the onion for 3–4 minutes. Add 100 g sliced mushrooms and continue as described.

    Tomato sauce with pesto Finish the sauce with 1 tablespoon of pesto per person.

    Tomato sauce with olives Add 80 g pitted black olives to the sauce.

    Tomato sauce with tuna Add 300 g tinned tuna chunks to the sauce.

    I tend to use tomato purée (also called passata or sugo) as a base for most of my sauces as I like the consistency it brings to the sauce. Lately, though, tinned tomatoes have been making a comeback in my kitchen. But whether you use tomato purée or tinned tomatoes, avoid those with added flavours such as herbs, wine or garlic. You should add your own flavouring, preferably fresh, in the quantity that you want. I like to add a handful of parsley or thyme to finish off a sauce. You can also try basil, oregano or rosemary.
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