Lisa’s Basic Tomato Sauce

What’s your favourite pasta sauce?

We always have a hankering to find out what’s happening in everyone else’s kitchen, so what’s your favourite PASTA SAUCE ?

Here is mine. Quick and easy to make, only thing to remember – the longer you cook it, the better it will be.

It’s great with grilled eggplant and mozzarella cheese. It’s fantastic to cook meatballs in. It’s wonderful with a sprinkle of ground cumin and chilli flakes and used as a cooking sauce for eggs.

It’s great straight from the pot.

We have a few delicious ideas already, collected over the past little while, and they appear at the bottom of this post.

Please share with us your favourite pasta sauce recipes…and be a part of the MONDAY MORNING COOKING CLUB.

Lisa's Basic Tomato Sauce

A simple, no-fuss, long-cooking tomato sauce for pasta, parmigiana or eating by the ladleful.
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Extras
Cuisine Italian


  • 2 onions finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste (concentrated puree)
  • 2 cloves garlic left whole and pressed flat
  • 4 cans Italian diced tomatoes (400 g each)
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp sea salt or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp pepper freshly cracked


  • Cook the onion in the olive oil over medium heat until really really soft but not brown, about 15 - 20 minutes.
  • Turn the heat up and add tomato paste and cook for a minute or so, stirring.
  • Add the garlic and the tomatoes. Season very generously with salt and pepper. Stir, and simmer for at least 1 hour, but 2 hours is better. Keep stirring from time to time. Taste for seasoning. Remove garlic if desired.
  • To make a baked pasta: Toss the sauce though cooked pasta, add sliced bocconcini and torn basil leaves and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Bake in a moderate oven for 20 mins covered in foil, remove the foil and cook for an additional 20 mins until golden and bubbling.


  1. Barbara Cohen

    JAMIE OLIVER’S Spaghetti Puttanesca

    1 pound (455 grams) dried spaghetti, the best you can get
    2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    1 handful capers, soaked in water and drained
    2 handfuls big black olives, pitted
    12 anchovy fillets, roughly chopped
    3 small dried red chilies, crumbled
    1 tablespoon dried oregano
    Extra-virgin olive oil
    2 (400gram) cans tomatoes, drained and chopped
    1 good handful fresh basil
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Cook the spaghetti in salted, boiling water until al dente. Meanwhile fry the garlic, capers, olives, anchovies, chilies, and oregano in a little olive oil for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes, bring to a simmer, and continue to cook for 4 or 5 minutes, until you have a lovely tomato sauce consistency. Remove from the heat, plunge the drained spaghetti into it, toss it over, and cover with the sauce. Rip all the basil over it, correct the seasoning, and drizzle with good extra-virgin olive oil.
    Yield: 4 servings
    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Cook Time: 15 minutes
    Difficulty: Easy

    1. Lisa Goldberg

      This sounds great Barbara – and it uses so many pantry staples that the only thing you’d need to buy would be fresh basil. Love it!

  2. Natalie Hersch

    Lemon Fusilli with Arugula (Ina Garten – Barefood Contessa Recipe)

    1 tbsp good olive oil
    1 tbsp 2 cloves minced garlic
    2 cups heavy cream (I use half fat cream)
    3 lemons
    kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    500g dried fusilli pasta
    226g baby arugula (rocket)
    1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
    470ml grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

    Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
    Add the garlic, and cook for 60 seconds, then add the cream, the zest and juice of 2 of the lemons, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper.
    Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until it starts to thicken.

    Bring a large pot of water to the boil, add 1 tbsp salt and the pasta, and cook until al dente, according to packet instructions.
    Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
    Immediately add the cream mixture and cook over medium-low heat for 3 minutes, until the pasta has absorbed most of the sauce.
    Pour the hot pasta into a large bowl and add the arugula, Parmesan, and tomatoes.
    Cut the last lemon in half lengthwise, slice it 1/4-inch thick crosswise, and add a few slices to the pasta.

    Toss well, season to taste, and serve hot.

    (Made this lots of times… easy and DELISH!!!)

      1. Ingrid

        Natalie’s Lemon Fusilla from Barefoot Contessa sounds amazing!

        1. Lisa Goldberg

          Ingrid – agree! Let me know if you make it…it’s on my ‘to cook’ list…

  3. Wendy

    We eat often pasta, all different kinds of shapes and with different sauces, but this is one of our favorites at the moment.

    Fusilli with zucchini and saffron

    250 gr dried fusilli
    2 shallots, cut in half first and then in small strips
    1 large zucchini, cut in little cubes or strips
    2 tbsp olive oil
    1 cup vegetable stock
    Saffron to taste
    Freshly ground black pepper
    200 ml creme fraiche
    Fresh basil leaves, about a little handful, cut in strips
    Parmesan, freshly grated

    Cook the pasta in salted water and make the sauce in the mean time.
    For the sauce fry the shallot gently for a few minutes in the olive oil until a bit soft but not browned. Then add the zucchini and fry for a few more minutes. Add the stock, saffron and pepper and let it simmer for about 5 minutes. Don’t put a lid on, the stock has to boil down a bit. Turn of the heat and add the creme fraiche, basil and some more pepper to taste. Add the pasta and mix well. If the sauce is too dry add some cooking water of the pasta (I always scoop out a cup before I drain the pasta). Serve with the Parmesan cheese.

    And then as we say in the Netherlands: Eet smakelijk! 🙂

  4. Lisa Goldberg

    Just received from Jennifer via email:

    TOMATO SAUCE: Love this recipe as it is useful if you want to make a sauce without garlic. It comes from Marcella Hazan:

    2lbs 1kilo fresh plum tomatoes
    1/4 lb 110g butter
    1 medium onion, peeled and halved
    1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar.

    1. Wash tomatoes in cold water. Cut in half, lengthways. Simmer in a covered saucepan for 10 minutes.
    2. Puree the tomatoes through a mouli back into the pan. Add butter, onion, salt and sugar and cook at a slow but steady simmer, uncovered for 45 minutes. Taste and check salt. Discard the onion.

    NOTE: If using canned tomatoes: Use 400g tin and start at step 2.

  5. Lisa Goldberg

    Received this from Rochelle and it sounds delicious:

    We first had lemon pasta in Positano and love it. It can be done with cream in the sauce but we prefer it without. It’s much lighter and fresher

    Spaghetti a la limone
    . 500g spaghetti
    . juice of 3 lemons and zest of 1
    .4- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    . 125g Parmesan cheese, grated
    . sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    . a handful of fresh rocket

    1. Cook the pasta till al dente then drain thoroughly and return to the pot
    2.Meanwhile, beat the lemon juice and zest with the olive oil, then stir in the Parmesan
    3.Season and add more lemon juice if needed.
    4.Add the lemon sauce to the spaghetti and shake the pan to coat each strand of pasta with the sauce (the Parmesan will melt when mixed with the pasta).

    5.Finish by stirring in fresh rocket.

    6.enjoy the taste of the amalfi coast wherever you are in the world

  6. Graeme

    Try for these lovely sauces house made Fettuccini. Using Kitchen Aid with pasta roller/cutter attachments.

    For each two servings use approx 200 gms of OO flour with two room temp eggs. ( approx as it depend on egg size, trial and error gets it right) no need for oil or water once you get it.

    Mix at speed one with flat beater for two minutes then dough hook for same.

    Rest pasta ball for and hour or so, roll out, cut into sections, run through roller building to setting five and then cut. Use a bit of flour to,stop strips sticking, leave sit for a while and cook. It is exquisite.

    1. Lisa Goldberg

      Thanks so much Graeme – how lovely, a fresh pasta recipe to go with all the delicious sauces. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Graeme

    Should have mentioned the egg and flour only was seen in a book by Ronnie Di Stasio albeit he recommended hand mixing etc.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating