off peak tomato sauce!

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Is there any more comforting food than pasta w/ tomato sauce? I doubt it… at least it’ll be in the top 10! So what to do in winter when there are no decent tomatoes (or real tomatoes get really expensive)? My solution is a simple tomato sauce based on canned tomatoes & dried herbs!


It’s time to care about tomato sauce once again (remember my tomato sauce based on fresh & ripe tomatoes!). This time it’s winter, it’s cold, it’s rainy (& sometimes even snowy!) – so we cannot rely on fresh & ripe tomatoes. Even fresh Mediterranean herbs make themselves scarce…

How to get a delicious-juicy-thick tomato sauce?

We just rely on what’s available!

So we start…

… w/ wonderful ripe Italian tomatoes – the canned type!

My windowsill is empty of any fresh herbs: so we start w/ dried herbs!

(Yes: normally I always have some fresh herbs, but this time… after harvesting the last leaves it became very cold outside (less than zero!) so that I decided not to buy any fill-ins worrying that the delicate leaves might fade away in the cold when being transported…)

So it’s now:

  • canned Italian peeled tomatoes in their very own juice
  • canned concentrated tomato purée
  • olive oil, balsamic vinegar & honey
  • fresh garlic, dried chili & onions.

We mix some dried herbs like:

  • oregano
  • basil
  • thyme
  • sage
  • ground rosemary
  • bay leaf.

Next is chopping the onions, pressing the garlic & crumbling the chili.


For the record:
I used the onions I found in my pantry – feel free house any onion which happens to sit in your pantry.
… & well: use as much garlic & chili as you like. My choice leads to a tomato sauce slightly garlicky & slightly hot.


In a frying pan olive oil, balsamic vinegar & honey are mixed & heated: the onions & the garlic & chili follow. Fry softly for about 4-5 min: then add the tomatoes & crush them.


(The somewhat “strange red” of the tomatoes is due to the artificial light above my stove!)

Add the concentrated tomato purée & the herbs – as well as salt & pepper. Stir until evenly distributed & let it simmer for about 20 min (or even some minutes longer). At the beginning the tomato mess is watery – at the end of the simmering phase it should be thick & heavy. Then it’s ready!

The best companion of a tomato sauce is shaved Parmesan!

… & pasta! End of story.


off peak tomato sauce!

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Servings: 2-3

off peak tomato sauce!

Is there any more comforting food than pasta w/ tomato sauce? I doubt it... at least it'll be in the top 10! So what to do in winter when there are no decent tomatoes (or real tomatoes get really expensive)? My solution is a simple tomato sauce based on canned tomatoes & dried herbs!


  • 1 can peeled Italian tomatoes (400 gr w/ 260 gr net)
  • 1 can concentrated tomato purée (70 gr)
  • 1 big spring onion
  • 1 small red onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 dried red chili
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 tsp dried sage
  • 1/4 tsp ground rosemary
  • salt & pepper

How to...

  1. Mix olive oil, balsamic vinegar & honey in a bowl & in a pour it frying pan.
  2. Chop the onions, press the garlic, crumble the chili (discard the pits!) & put it in the frying pan.
  3. Add the bay leave & fry everything for about 4-5 min - softly!
  4. Add the peeled tomatoes (Incl. the tomato juice!) & break the tomatoes apart.
  5. Add the concentrated tomato purée & stir until evenly distributed.
  6. Add the dried herbs & stir until evenly distributed.
  7. Add salt & pepper.
  8. Let the tomato mess simmer for about 20 min.
  9. Adjust salt & pepper!
  10. Don't forget to remove the bay leaf!
  11. Pour in a serving bowl & serve.


Tomatoes: You may use canned peeled tomatoes or canned crushed tomatoes or even canned tomato purée (if you like a very smooth tomato sauce!).

Onions: I happened to find a spring onion & a red onion in my pantry - you may use any onion(s) you'll find in your pantry, however, take care of the amount!

Garlic & chili: You may use more garlic & more chili... less garlic & less chili... any combination which is fine for you. My recommendation results in a slightly garlicky tomato sauce w/ a little hotness.

You may store the tomato sauce in the fridge for at least 3 days.


Isn’t it delicious?

We had simply spaghetti, tomato sauce & shaved Parmesan for dinner.

The tomato sauce was really thick w/ lots of bits. If you like a smoother version you may skip the onions or fry them until they almost melt. Instead of canned tomatoes you may also use canned tomato purée… Important is the Italian background!

What else is possible?
You may also start w/ some minced beef adding onions, garlic & chili. When the minced beef is brown just fold in tomatoes etc. & let it thicken… it’s a very simple spaghetti bolognese!
(We had this some days ago… it’s winter & cold & rainy & snowy: so we need a lot of comforting food!)

Another tip:
If you’re doing homemade pizza skip onions, garlic & chili, replace canned tomatoes by canned tomato purée & mix everything in a bowl. It stays cold: you’ll need not frying/cooking – this will be done by the oven when the pizza is in.


The Businesswoman with too many office hours thinks

Oh yeah: After a challenging day in the office – no extra need of cold, rainy daytime – a plate w/ spaghetti & tomato sauce & Parmesan is just fine. No need to go shopping… I can hang around in my kitchen & let off steam. About half an hour later we can indulge in tasty pasta w/ a glass of red wine (or more) – it’s easy & fast & more than fine!


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