We eat pasta so often that I always have spaghetti sauce in the fridge. It has been a long time since I actually bought premade pasta sauce and I want to tell you why.
First, have you ever looked at the back of a jar of spaghetti sauce? It’s crazy. I am not one who normally checks out labels, but I never thought there would be so many ingredients. There was like, three different things that I think were sugar, not to mention a bunch of other things I couldn’t even pronounce. Now if I was buying something difficult, something that took ingredients that weren’t easy to get or something I know I couldn’t make myself, I don’t think I would mind so much, but pasta sauce is very easy to make. I usually make my pasta sauce from scratch, fresh tomatoes and whatnot, but that is very time consuming and I realize that not a lot of people have that much time to prepare something they could just go to the store and buy. Another big plus is that it tastes SO much better. Even if you buy canned tomatoes (whole, crushed, puree), there is just much more flavor (and WAY less ingredients!). Not to mention, you can add whatever you like or leave out the things you don’t like. So before you buy store bought pasta sauce, try out this very simple recipe!
- 1 can tomato puree
- 1 can crushed tomatoes
- 1 small can tomato paste (optional)
- Olive oil
- 4 to 6 cloves of garlic, minced
- Onion, chopped
- Mushrooms, chopped
- Bell pepper, chopped
- Dried herbs
- Salt and pepper to taste
So let’s first get into the cans of tomatoes. You can go about this so many ways. The first way is to buy whole tomatoes in a can and chop them up, but this takes a while. If you have the time to do this, you might as well make your sauce from fresh tomatoes (I will post that recipe soon). You could use just crushed tomatoes, no puree or paste. This works well and it is probably the easiest way. My favorite way to make the sauce if I am not using fresh tomatoes is to use a can of tomato puree and a can of crushed tomatoes. After having made spaghetti sauce so many times, I really feel it gives it the best texture. On the tomato paste, it’s personal preference. It will help thicken up your sauce. Sometimes I use it and sometimes I don’t, it’s not a huge difference.
Next, let’s talk vegetables. Anything you like, chop it up and throw it in. Really. If you don’t like vegetables at all in your sauce, go ahead and leave them out. This is really the best part of making the pasta sauce yourself, you can control everything. If you do like vegetables in your sauce, I would recommend onions and mushrooms for sure.
Now herbs! As always, you can use fresh herbs if you have them. The best thing to use for your sauce would be an Italian herb mix. Don’t use the kind that has anything more than dried herbs in it. There are some Italian seasonings you see at the store and they will have a ton of ingredients. You definitely don’t want the kind that has salt already in it. It’s always best with any seasoning mix you use to make sure it has no salt. Salt is something you want to be able to add yourself. So Italian herbs that work great in pasta sauce include (but not limited to!):
So, let’s get to it! You can make this in a slow cooker or in a pot on the oven, either works. If you have a crockpot or any other type of slow cooker that has a type of pot that you can’t place on the stove, you will want to use a skillet for this first part. On the stove in your pot or skillet, heat your olive oil over medium heat. Add in your vegetables, minced garlic and some salt and pepper. Sauté these until they are soft. It really depends how much you use as to how long it will take, but mine took about 5 minutes.
Transfer the ingredients of your skillet to your crock pot or place your pot on top of your slow cooker heater. Add in your tomato sauce (however you choose from above) and your herbs. Remember!! You can always add more, but you can’t take out! Don’t put too much of anything if you aren’t sure. Keep in mind, however, that you are using sauce with zero flavoring, so you have a long way to go. If this is your first time making your sauce, you will need to taste your sauce occasionally and see how it’s coming along. It’s much better to do it that way than to add a bunch and realize you overdid it.
If you are leaving this on your stove, keep it on low. If you have this in your slow cooker, I recommend low to medium. You can leave this cooking for quite a while, but I’d say 2 hours minimum. Taste it after a couple hours and see how you like it. If it seems acidic, add unsalted butter. Only add about 1 tablespoon at a time and let it cook a bit before you taste it again.
This sauce freezes well, just let it cool completely and put it in plastic freezer bags. You can make a large batch and save it for different meals (ziti, lasagna, dip for those biscuit poppers!).
Have you ever made homemade pasta sauce before? If you haven’t and you make this once, I highly doubt you will buy store bought spaghetti sauce again!