Pasta, Grandma’s Way: An Exquisite but Simple Italian Tomato Sauce


Ciao amici! I know there are as many different versions of tomato sauce as there are households in Italy, so here’s mine. It was handed down from my grandmother, who was raised on a farm south of Rome.  Meatballs, of course, constitute another blog post.

Psst. If you’re not a Latin Lover, you can certainly pretend when you serve her this delight.

Ingredients for Tomato Sauce:

2 medium onions

2 12oz. cans of crushed tomatoes

1 head of garlic

½ cup of extra virgin olive oil

2 cups of soup stock (chicken, beef, or vegetable)

1 tablespoon of tomato paste

¼ cup of red wine (not a cooking wine – choose something you would drink)

1 tablespoon of butter

1 tablespoon of flour

salt and pepper to taste

1 pound of dried pasta (I’m prefer Barilla Pasta, but use whatever you prefer)

Step 1. Peel the garlic and dice the onions. Pour the olive oil into a pot over medium heat. Then put the garlic in right away. The oil doesn’t have to be hot yet, because you don’t want to cook garlic over high heat. When the garlic is golden -not brown – remove it and set it aside.

Step 2. Put the onions in the pot and cook for 5 minutes, or until they are soft and translucent. Then put in the tomato paste and wine. Once the tomato paste has spread throughout the mixture, it’s time to deal with the garlic again. Squeeze the cooked and softened garlic through a garlic press, and add the crushed tomatoes and stock.

Step 3. Turn the heat two notches below medium.  Cover the pot, leaving the cover slightly askew. Let the sauce bubble and simmer for about twenty minutes, stirring every five minutes.

Step 4. In a small skillet or frying pan, melt the butter and add the flour. Let it cook until it has an almond or beige color. Now you have a roux.  Remove it from the heat.

Step 5. Put 5 ladles of sauce into a blender and blend until smooth. Empty the blender into a second large pot.  Repeat until all of the sauce has been transferred.

Step 6. Now that your original pot is empty, pour the roux into the pot, along with three ladles of the now-smooth sauce. Beat the mixture with a wire whisk, hand-held mixer or immersion blender.

Step 7. Once the roux has been completely blended into the sauce, put all of the sauce back into the original pot. Salt and pepper to taste, and let it simmer until the pasta is ready.

Step 8. Make your pasta according to the directions on the box. Remember to salt the water after the pasta has been placed into the boiling water.

Step 9. Enjoy!

Yes, this is a lot of sauce.  However, you can freeze it in Tupperware for up to 60 days.  Think of all the great dinners you can get out of this!  Eggplant and chicken parmigiana, Ziti, lasagna, Manicotti….o.k. I gotta go. I’m hungry.

16 thoughts on “Pasta, Grandma’s Way: An Exquisite but Simple Italian Tomato Sauce

  1. You’re making me hungry. I didn’t get to taste my first pizza until I was all grown up and I didn’t like it. I belonged to a bowling club at work and worked up an appetite. They ordered pizza and I ate it and fell in love. Hunger will do that to you, especially when you never developed a taste for it. Now I did have to develop a taste for chitterlings which turned out is a cultural thing. Couldn’t stand it as a child but over time grew to like it. I left the cleaning part to others. I no longer eat it because it is so overly processed that there is nothing left to cook.


  2. Oops. I thought that was pizza but its a pasta with sauce. Stupid me. Oh well, its all Italian which I love. My husband makes the best spaghetti w/meatballs or a baked spaghetti. Delicious. The secret is the sauce. He knows how to blend those flavors. The way to a woman’s heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. OK!!!! I have never heard of adding a roux, but it makes perfect sense and is what I’ll do when I next make gravy (sauce). South Philly Eye-Talians always call it gravy. The only other difference I do is to use only imported Marzano tomatoes and add a freshly grated half cup of Locatelli cheese.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love San Marzano tomatoes, but they are expensive.
    Gravy goes for NY Italians as well. I’ll call it that too if it’s meat based.
    Cheese is a personal choice. Locatelli is my favorite brand as well. I actually found it in a supermarket in Texas. People were staring when I jumped and said YESSSSS!!
    My uncle likes to grate Asiago cheese on his pasta. It’s really from Italian immigrants in Argentina who first created it. But that doesn’t lessen its goodness:-)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Locatelli in Texas?!?! I am so surprised. I heard that in Texas there are lots of Sicilians, is that true? We have Asiago here in Sicily too I didn’t know it was created by Italians in Argentina. Many of my relatives also immigrated to Argentina. I personally was born in Sicily but grew up in New York…in the Bronx:) San Marzano are my favorites also, they make the best tomato sauce.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Bravissimo Ernesto! Questo sugo è perfetto. Qui in Sicilia nel sugo spesso mettiamo un po’ di zucchero, cannella e anche uva passa, il classico sugo alla Siciliana. Tanti saluti da Trapani!


  6. Woweee….yummy it is…..!!! I will love to try out that first and then come back here dropping a comment. By the way, I can make a great pasta and make my mom a surprized as it was a mother’s day yesterday.


  7. Another I’ll have to test with GF flour (they don’t make the best roux, generally). Question: why sieve the garlic if you are then going to blend? D’ya think it would make much difference in the final product? (I’m all for saving steps.)
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”


What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s