Making spaghetti sauce is an art form, and each cook brings her own touches to it. When making spaghetti sauce from fresh tomatoes, the secret to achieving that sweet tang that complements the pasta so well is in how you prepare the tomatoes. It takes a little extra time, but the effort will result in a well-balanced basic sauce to which you can add your favorite seasonings.

  • Tomatoes
  • Onion
  • Zucchini
  • Green and yellow sweet peppers
  • Garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Basil

Finely chop half a small onion. Chop half of a zucchini into 1/2-inch size pieces. Dice one small green sweet pepper and one yellow sweet pepper. Use a garlic crusher and crush three large cloves of garlic. Set these vegetables aside, keeping them separate.

Wash six to eight large tomatoes. Set aside. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. While the water is coming to a boil, set up an ice water bath. Do this by filling a large mixing bowl two thirds full with cold water and ice cubes.

Drop two or three tomatoes into the boiling water and watch them closely. When you see the skins begins to split at the top and/or bottom of the tomatoes, remove them and place them immediately into the ice water bath.

Remove them from the ice water bath after one or two minutes and set them on a cutting board. Starting at the top or bottom, where the skin has split, carefully peel the skin from the tomatoes. Use the tip of a paring knife or pull the skin with your fingers.

Dip any tomato back into the boiling water for 30 seconds and then into the ice water bath if the skin does not come away easily. Wait for the tomato to cool slightly and continue removing the skin.

Repeat this process until all the tomatoes are skinned. Using a serrated knife, cut each tomato in half and scoop out the majority of the seeds and discard them. Roughly chop the tomatoes and place them into a food processor. Pulse the tomatoes until they are diced. Do not over process; you do not want them to turn into sauce yet.

Empty the large pot you used to boil the tomatoes and fill with 2 to 3 inches of water. Place the pot over medium heat and add the tomato mix. Add two teaspoons of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of olive oil. Bring to a soft boil and immediately turn the heat down to low and allow the mixture to simmer. Keep an eye on them, stirring frequently while you prepare the vegetables.

Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add two tablespoons of olive oil to the heated pan. Add the chopped onion and cook three to five minutes. Add the zucchini and cook until the zucchini begins to brown. Add the peppers and continue cooking the vegetables until the peppers begin to soften. Add the crushed garlic and stir to combine, cooking for one more minute.

Season the vegetables with a teaspoon of dried thyme and turn down the heat to low.

Add one teaspoon each of dried oregano and sweet basil to the tomato mix and stir in. Transfer the tomato mix back to the food processor and process just until no longer chunky, but not completely smooth.

Add the tomato mix to the vegetables and stir to combine. Turn up the heat to medium and add two tablespoons of unsalted butter. Continue stirring to melt the butter. If you want the consistency to be a little thicker, add another teaspoon of butter.

Bring the sauce to a boil and add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar and a pinch of salt before lowering the temperature so the sauce begins to simmer. Add oregano, thyme, parsley and basil to taste. Allow the sauce to simmer for half an hour before serving. This sauce will serve four to six people.

  • Add a ladle of the pasta cooking water to your sauce before serving to add a little starch to the sauce. It will stick better to the pasta.

About the Author

Shelly McRae

Shelly McRae is a freelance writer residing in Phoenix, Ariz. Having earned an associate degree from Glendale Community College with a major in graphic design and technical writing, she turned to online writing. McRae has written articles for multiple websites, drawing on her experience in the home improvement industry and hydroponic gardening.