Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fresh Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce

This recipe in not the traditional way to make pasta sauce using fresh tomatoes. I take the easy and fast route. I just don't have time to remove the skins and seeds from 20 pounds of tomatoes each time I make sauce! Place fresh tomatoes in a blender and blend the seeds, skin, and all. Plus, this way we use the *whole food* -- the whole tomato. Once you begin to make your own you'll never want to go back to store-bought pasta sauce!

I have been buying cases of fresh, organic tomatoes from Smallwood Farms in Eastern Washington. If you grown your own tomatoes, this recipe is a great way to make use of them. The sauce can be canned in mason jars or stored in your freezer for later use. The other day I asked Facebook fans what everyone was doing with the tomato harvest this season. There are so many great comments. Be sure to head over there and check them out if you need more ideas!

Fresh Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce 

If you want to make a smaller batch you can cut this recipe into thirds. Use about 6 to 7 pounds of tomatoes and one large onion. I like to use a 12-quart stock pot when making this sauce. I use a food processor to mince the onions and garlic. Then I process about 1/3 of the tomatoes in it as well. This leaves some of the tomatoes a little chunky. Use a blender or Vitamix to puree the remaining tomatoes. Once the sauce has cooked down to the consistency you like, taste it and add more sea salt as needed.

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 large onions, minced
1 whole head garlic, minced
20 pounds fresh tomatoes
2 cups fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 to 4 tablespoons coconut sugar (optional)
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons sea salt

Heat a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the olive oil and then the minced onions and garlic. Sauté for about 10 minutes. Remove the stem-end of the tomatoes. Process some of them in a food processor, leaving them a little chunky. Blend the remaining tomatoes until smooth. Then begin to add the tomatoes to the pot of onions in batches as you puree them. Add the chopped basil, vinegar, sugar, Italian seasoning, and sea salt.

Cook, uncovered, for about 3 hours or until sauce has cooked down and thickened. Be sure to stir it on occasion and keep it on a rapid simmer. Keep cooking until sauce has thickened to your liking. Taste and add more salt if needed. Freeze cooled sauce in jars or can it.

Yield: 6 to 7 quarts

More Sauce Recipes:
Homemade Chipotle Barbecue Sauce
Thai Green Curry Sauce
Pizza Sauce

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About the Author

Alissa Segersten holds a Bachelor's of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University. She is the founder of Whole Life Nutrition, the mother of five children, a whole foods cooking instructor, professional recipe developer, and cookbook author. She is passionate about helping others find a diet that will truly nourish them, and offers elimination diet recipes, healthy gluten-free recipes, paleo and vegan recipes, as well as tips for feeding your family a nourishing, whole foods diet. Alissa is the author of two very popular gluten-free, whole foods cookbooks and guidebooks: The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook and Nourishing Meals. She is also the co-author of The Elimination Diet book. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram!


  1. Gorgeous sauce, Ali! Love the idea on blending all of the tomato without any prep.


  2. Thank you Ali for this timely post! Thanks for making the process simpler and less daunting by using the vitamix. Smart! Can't wait to try it. Made your butternut squash soup from your book a few nights ago. Yum! It was fantastic. Thanks!

  3. You are tempting me to try my hand at sauce-making again. I did this once, but all my jars popped over the course of a week. :(

  4. Hi Ali, Thanks for posting your recipe. I use your recipe today and followed it exactly. The sauce turned out very nicely, although I had to simmer mine much longer to get it to the right consistency. (I think I had it on too low of simmer in the beginning). I had a question for you about the basil. Normally, I add my fresh herbs at the end of the cooking time. Is there any particular reason that you add the basil at the beginning instead of the end? I don't taste a strong basil flavor in the sauce. I wonder if adding the basil later would give it a stronger basil flavor? Thanks!

  5. Janet - I usually add fresh herbs at the end of cooking too, but since this is a sauce that was to be canned I din't think it would matter. I packed down my leaves when measuring and I should have stated that on the recipe. I am sure it could take much more basil for more flavor. You could probably add 4 cups of packed leaves. Thanks for the feedback! :)

  6. Hi Ali, I just returned from the Farmer's market and plan to try your recipe. Wondering, if you had a time for water bath canning the sauce? Also, I don't have coconut sugar.. could I interchange with a small amount of granulated sugar? Thanks for all your assistance.

  7. Jessica -

    Yes, I water bathed canned one batch and froze another. In the batch that I canned I made sure there were 2 tablespoons of vinegar of 6% acidity in each quart jar along with a couple of teaspoons of coconut sugar to balance the flavors. Jars should boil for about 40 minutes at sea level. You can use white sugar instead of coconut sugar no problem.

  8. I have a yeast intolerance, and I was wondering what I could use as a substitute for the red wine vinegar. Would lemon juice work? Thanks!

  9. Gracie - If you are not planning on canning this sauce then you don't need to add vinegar or lemon juice. If you do plan on canning it you will need to add lemon juice (or vinegar) to each jar (1 tablespoon per pint or 2 tablespoons per quart) to keep it acidic enough. Enjoy!

  10. Hi Ali - I shared your recipe for this easy, no waste sauce on my blog: Cooking Ripe! I hope you enjoy the post.

  11. I tried this last night, made a smaller batch, and it was delicious! I love that I could just put it in my vitamix machine and not worry about deseeding or taking the skins off the tomatoes. Kids loved it, and so much better then store bought sauce. I added a pinch of baking soda at the end to take some of the acidity out of it, personal preference, but followed the ingredient list and it was really superb! Thanks for a great easy marinara recipe. Will be making a bigger batch in the future.

  12. I just made your sauce this morning. I didn't have the full 20 lbs, but that was good, because my pot wouldn't have fit them! I ended up with 2 quarts, plus a little extra. It was my first time taking on a large amount of tomatoes (successfully) like this. Thanks so much for posting.

  13. I just made a batch of this this morning. Thank you for this post. It was my first time taking on so many tomatoes (successfully). I didn't have 20 lbs (thankfully, not enough room in the pot!) nor did I have red-wine vinegar. Okay, okay, I did a lot of improvising, but it worked and you gave me the courage to tackle my tomatoes. Thank you so much!

  14. Hi Ali,
    My daughter and I made the tomato basil marinara sauce for dinner tonight. We added some of the sauce to chicken breasts and baked them, and served up some spaghetti squash with marinara sauce. This meal is going to become a staple. The whole family loved it.

    Thank you for another great recipe.


  15. I made this sauce yesterday & appreciated not having to skin the tomatoes beforehand. I used my Vitamix to pulverize (not an accurate cooking term but that's what it was) just enough to make sure all the tomato pieces were small. I didn't have a pot big enough for cooking so I cooked it in the base of my pressure cooker. We have a 2-burner propane stove that we use outside for canning (best $100 we've spent) & i was able to get a good simmer on the pot. After 3 hours of cooking, the sauce was still a bit runny so I added 3 cans of tomato paste & it was prefect. I canned the sauce for 40 minutes & let the jars sit in the water bath for 15 minutes. The recipe made 12 pints of sauce.

  16. Excellent recipe! Thank you! I started with a half recipe and needed to simmer it about 5 hours to get it thick enough. I used a wide variety of tomatoes in my sauce.


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Thanks and Happy Cooking! ~Ali :)