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Easiest ever homemade tomato sauce two ways

Fresh-made tomato sauce

For the first thirty-five years or so of my cooking life, I kept my pantry stocked with a variety of canned tomato products: Paste, puree, plain sauce, herbed sauces, sauces with veggies, various spaghetti sauces. No more! It’s so easy to make my own, and on this page I’ll show you two ways to do it. But why make my own when I could just buy it in cans?

What can I say? I love tomatoes just about any way I can get ’em. Fresh is best, but cooked, stewed, sauced. They’re all good. Can’t get enough. Those canned tomato products, though? They’ve got a problem. A big one.

In the early aughts (2000-2009), we began seeing articles about BPA and other leachates in bottles and cans. Tomatoes, it turned out, because of their high acidic content, tend to absorb more BPA than some other food products. I had to ditch those cans.

Don't you just love these giant berries?

Don’t you just love these giant berries?

At first, I bought five or ten pounds of tomatoes at the Farmer’s Market and cooked them down to stewed tomatoes. They made the house smell nice while they simmered on the stove for hours, but that meant I was losing nutrients as well as flavor in the vapors. How could I retain more of the essential vitamins, minerals and, most importantly, sweetly piquant tomato flavor?

Enter my new 6-in-1 cooker

Last winter, I decided to try a cool new piece of kitchen equipment: The 6-in-1 cooker. It’s a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice and vegetable steamer, sautéer, soup maker, and bean cooker, all in one appliance.

Now, I’ve never owned a pressure cooker before because I was afraid I’d blow it up. As a child, I heard horror stories. But this machine comes with a computer chip and buttons. Supposedly, I don’t have to worry about a pressure cooker explosion. Just set it and let it do its thing.

My 4-quart 6-in-1 cooker

My 4-quart 6-in-1 cooker

The main draw was the space-saver. I don’t have a lot of room for multiple appliances. One machine that steams rice and veggies, cooks beans and soups, and cooks fast or slow? Wa-hoo! I can throw stuff in, push a button for soup or beans or whatever I’m cooking, set the timer, and go play with the grandkids.

By the way, this is not an ad or an endorsement. I picked this cooker, paid for it, and am now trialing it all on my own. If I like it after a full year’s use, you’ll know it. If I don’t, you’ll know that too. I don’t make a cent for telling you about this machine.

One of the things I like best about it: I can make a versatile homemade tomato sauce when I need it. Long as I have tomatoes, onions and garlic, and a few fresh herbs, which I almost always do, I’m good to go.

A batch of fresh-made tomato sauce, any way I like it, every week

Making a healthy, homemade tomato sauce is now so easy that I’ve started making up a batch every week. We go through it that fast!

Chopped veggies in the pot, ready to stew fast under pressure

Chopped veggies in the pot, ready to go

Here are two ways I make it. The first is quicker, in the pressure cooker, and comes in mighty handy when I need sauce today, within the hour. The flavors are fresh, bright, distinct and delicious. The second method is slow-cooked over eight hours or more. We like that one too, for different reasons.

If you’ve ever made a slow-cooking stew, you know how the flavors of the vegetables combine and make something that is more than just the parts. They’re all there, but there’s a depth and richness that is its own goodness.

All that goodness shines, without adding fat!

One of the coolest things about this tomato sauce: You get plenty of flavor without adding so much as a teaspoon of fat. That’s right. There’s no oil in this sauce. No gluten. No dairy. It’s just pure, wholesome vegetables, as fresh as I can get ’em.

Whichever way you prepare this sauce, fast or slow, it’s highly versatile. Got a fridge full of leftover veggies, pastas and beans? Throw them into a skillet, heat them through, pour a cup of this flavorful sauce over them, and you’ve got a whole new dish.

Here are a few more of the ways we use this sauce

  • Homemade tomato soup – Pour it from the jar into a pan, heat it gently for five minutes or so, and you have a delicious, comfort-food soup
  • Tomato base for minestrone, vegetable soup, lentil soup, bean soup or chili
  • Tomato sauce for pizzas, calzones
  • Instant pasta sauce to heat and serve as is, or add the sautéed vegetables and fresh herbs you love in your pasta sauce, all ready in minutes

So get out your pressure cooker for the first recipe, or your slow cooker for the second one. A sharp knife, some scrubbed veggies, and you’re ready to make the easiest, most versatile tomato sauce I’ve ever seen.

A word about using a pressure cooker like mine

One of the downsides of this pressure cooker is that it takes about 15 minutes to reach pressure, and another 15 minutes after cooking to release the pressure. This adds 30 minutes to any pressure cooking job you might want it to do.

So if it’s five o’clock in the afternoon, and I want a fresh batch of herbed tomato puree. It’s not going to be ready until nearly six. On the other hand, it’s five o’clock and I want a fresh batch of tomato puree. By six o’clock my sauce will be ready to spread on my fresh-made pizza dough. Glass full!

Basic Tomato Sauce Recipe in the Pressure Cooker

  • Servings: Yields about 6 cups
  • Time: 15 mins prep, plus 37 minutes in my pressure cooker, including warm-up and cool-down times
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Fresh-made tomato puree

Fresh-made tomato puree

This sauce is ready in less than an hour. Because you cook your fresh tomatoes and vegetables fast, under pressure, you lock in the flavors. Utterly delicious freshness.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large white or yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped, depending how much garlic flavor you like
  • 2-3 stalks celery, with leaves, chopped (optional)
  • 10 medium tomatoes (about 6 pounds), coarsely chopped, skins on*
  • 1 each red and yellow or orange bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 C chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 t Sea salt

*Update August 24, 2015: The tomatoes most readily available to me have thin, delicate skins and high juice content. A reader said she used Roma tomatoes. I haven’t tried these thicker-skinned, less juicy tomatoes in this sauce, except incidentally, when I’ve had a couple on hand and threw them in with the rest. If I am lucky enough to get a batch sometime, I’ll give them a go and let you know how they work in this sauce.

Caution: Follow your pressure cooker’s instruction manual when filling and using. When in doubt, contact the company before proceeding. Adjust recipe as necessary. Do not overfill!

Directions

  1. Dump all ingredients into your pressure cooker and process for 7 minutes, until vegetables are soft and tender enough to puree.
  2. Puree with stick blender or carefully pour a little at a time into your stand blender and puree until smooth. You will see some seeds throughout the sauce. I don’t strain these out, preferring their nutrients in our food. I love to bite into them–a little hit of tomato-y flavor.
  3. Pour puree into storage containers and cool in refrigerator or serve immediately as a fresh-made tomato soup.

I use Fido or Le Parfait jars to store my sauce because it keeps longer in them, up to a week, if we manage not to eat it all before then.
A YayYay's Kitchen Recipe

This is a YayYay’s Kitchen original recipe. Please link back to this page if you base a recipe of your own on this one.

Basic Tomato Sauce Recipe in the Slow Cooker

When I prepare the vegetables for the slow cooker method, I start by caramelizing the onions and garlic a bit before adding the rest of the vegetables. That caramelization adds rich flavor to the sauce over long, slow simmer. Best of all, I can saute right in the pot, with just a splash of water in place of the oil we usually use. This sauce needs no fat, not a drop!

Tip: You can caramelize without oil in a skillet too. Either way, start with a couple of tablespoons of filtered water in a skillet over medium flame, add your chopped veggies and let them sit for 3-4 minutes, until you see the water is nearly gone.

Give them a turn and let them sit again, adding another tablespoon or so of water if they’re sticking too much.

When they’re as golden brown as you want them, add another tablespoon water to deglaze the pan, and stir them real well. Serve, use or store in the fridge.

Watch this short slide show to see how the saute-to-slow-cook works in my 6-in-1.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Basic Tomato Sauce Recipe in the Slow Cooker

  • Servings: Yields about 6 cups
  • Time: 15 mins prep, plus 6-10 hours in the slow cooker
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Homemade tomato sauce with savory whole wheat and bell pepper scones

Homemade tomato sauce with savory whole wheat and bell pepper scones

We get sweet, herb-infused flavor in every bite, and it takes just minutes to get the sauce going. In fact, you should have your slow-cooker sealed and simmering in fifteen minutes or less.

For tomato sauce, I caramelize the onions and garlic, and celery if I have it, for no more than 5 minutes, just enough to start the sugars developing and obtain a little color.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large white or yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2-3 stalks celery, with leaves, chopped (optional)
  • 10 medium tomatoes (about 6 pounds), coarsely chopped, skins on
  • 1 each red and yellow or orange bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 C chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 t Sea salt

Directions

  1. Sauté the onions and garlic, and celery if using, until slightly caramelized.
  2. Add the chopped tomatoes, bell peppers, basil leaves and salt.
  3. Cover and set the slow cooker for 6-10 hours. You know your cooker. I like mine to cook 8 hours at least, and 10 hours if I have the time, to get a nice saucy flavor throughout.
  4. Puree with stick blender or carefully pour a little at a time into your stand blender and puree until smooth. You will see some seeds throughout the sauce. Once again, I don’t bother straining them. We love the seeds!
  5. Pour puree into storage containers and cool in refrigerator, or serve immediately as tomato soup.


A YayYay's Kitchen Recipe

This is a YayYay’s Kitchen original recipe. Please link back to this page if you base a recipe of your own on this one.

This sauce varies in thickness depending on how juicy your tomatoes may be. Not to worry! It is so full of flavor, that you can actually use less in your soups and still get a rich tomato-y taste.

Sometimes, my sauce is thick enough that I can use it as-is on a homemade pizza. Sometimes, I have to reduce it a bit over a flame. The fresh veggies have so much natural sugar in them, that it doesn’t take long to reduce a cup or two.

Tomato soup with homemade lemon-thyme hummus on whole wheat sourdough

Tomato soup with homemade lemon-thyme hummus on whole wheat sourdough

Whether it is on the thick or thin side, it’s always delicious as a soup. When you come home from a long day of work and want comfort food, this sauce makes for a super quick supper.

Heat it up, smear a crust of whole wheat sourdough bread with homemade lemon-thyme hummus, slice an apple and you’re done.

The best news is, because it’s homemade and has nothing but fresh-chopped, organic vegetables, this sauce is packed with nutrients your body craves. Well, mine does anyway.

Go ahead. Take a taste.

♥  ♥  ♥

Shared on:
Healthy, happy, green and natural blog hop #109

13 Comments

  1. I love the idea of making a fresh batch or two of tomato sauce then using it to enhance so many meals! I am so delighted that you created these healthy and delicious your healthy and delicious tomato sauce recipes at the Healthy Happy Green Natural Party! I’m Pinning and sharing this!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was wondering why you had completely stopped using canned products. I switched from canned to frozen to avoid so many preservatives, but some things I need come only in cans. After reading about the BPA. I will need to re-think this. I definitely want to try making my own tomato sauce. Would also like to try my hand at making tomato paste. My daughter who is a fantastic cook will be visiting soon. Maybe she and I can have some fun in the kitchen trying your tomato recipes. Thanks for some great and useful info.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maria, yes, I did give up cans, for the most part. I remember reading a list of foods scientists who evaluate such things said they would never eat in cans. Tomatoes were at the top of the list. The acid in the tomatoes, apparently, helps to leach the plastic chemicals from the liners.

      I’ve not made tomato paste. When summer comes again, I plan to try it using the less juicy, more dense Roma tomatoes. Perhaps you’ll have a recipe to share before then that I can try!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. melrootsnwrites says

    That sauce really looks delicious! Now all we need is some vermicelli. It doesn’t seem to take much effort to put together either. I’ll be curious how the appliance works out for you. I like that it is an all in one appliance as it saves space in your cupboard. Is it heavy? I’m curious as I have arthritis in my hands. One of the problems I have with steamers and such is that they aren’t easy for me to carry.

    By the way, I have heard also heard about accidents with pressure cookers. I’ve never used one and I have to admit that it makes me nervous.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your kind words. I, too, have arthritis in my hands, and I find this unit quite easy to handle. That was a concern I had before buying it as well.

      It is quite lightweight without the lid, and not bad with it.

      I thought that lifting the interior pot from the unit might be difficult, since it had no handles, just a lip, but that turned out to be surprisingly easy too, even when it’s full of hot food.

      I will keep you posted on how it works over the long haul. Thanks for taking a look at my recipe–and for your questions!

      Like

  4. Sharon L. Grace says

    I love how you can add the week’s last fresh veggies, beans, hummus, greens, etc, to this tomato base and have a wonderful healthy soup to enjoy!

    Liked by 1 person

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