Quick Tomato Sauce for Pasta & Pizza ♥

Quick Tomato Sauce for Pasta & Pizza ♥ AVeggieVenture.com, just canned tomatoes plus pantry ingredients, ready in 20 minutes.
Grab some canned tomatoes, put the pasta water on to boil and, get this, a hot, satisfying supper is 20 minutes away. This is one of those miracle sauces, just those tomatoes plus smidgens of pantry ingredients to coax out a rich-flavored, lightly spiced and slightly chunky tomato sauce that works for pasta, sure, but also for homemade pizza, draping over sautéed greens, packing up in meal-size containers for the freezer, and more.

Real Food, Fast & Casual. Just Canned Tomatoes + A Few Pantry Ingredients. A Summer Classic. Not Just Easy, Summer Easy. Year-Round Kitchen Staple. Supper Substantial. Budget Friendly. Little Effort, Big Taste. Weeknight Easy, Weekend Special. Easy Meal Prep. Low Carb. Low Fat. Weight Watchers Friendly. Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real.

Just How Fast Is a "Quick" Dinner?

"Quick" is relative.

Is 15 minutes in the dentist chair "quick"? Sure, if you feared an hour but not if your mouth is pried open and big hands with metal tools are probing inside while a light pierces into your eyes and swoony music plays in your brain.

Is a 20-minute minute dinner from start to table "quick"? Yes! The kids can't waste away from hunger in just 20 minutes, can they?

It's Easier to Cook a LOT Than a LITTLE.

But this super-easy tomato sauce also reminds me of that important kitchen lesson, perhaps my #1 culinary revelation. This is it.

If you cook only a little, it's hard work to put a whole meal on the table. Entrée, salad and vegetable? And a dessert, of course, because why cook if there's no sweet reward at the end? It add up, the planning, all those ingredients, timing issues, plus clean up and worst of all, emptying the *&^%^&* dishwasher.

But when you cook a lot, you've had your eye on a simple weeknight chicken recipe and know the ingredients are ones you keep on hand. Plus you have things tucked away in the fridge, some leafy greens, some cooked quinoa, some leftover roasted vegetable, a dressing to transform a salad from simple to spectacular.

My goal is to cook no more than one thing for any meal, two things at most and then only if one is extraordinarily simple.

That's why it's easier to cook a lot than to cook a little. It's why I recommend that new cooks start off by cooking ONE thing for a meal, relying on carry-out or prepared foods for the rest. Gain some confidence, don't let yourself get stressed. This is supposed to be fun, not the dentist's chair. (With apologies to my dentist!)

Quick Tomato Sauce for Pasta & Pizza ♥ AVeggieVenture.com, just canned tomatoes plus pantry ingredients, ready in 20 minutes.

Enter This Tomato Sauce.

It's just canned tomatoes, some garlic, a pinch of sugar, a few spoons of spices. THAT IS IT well except for a hot skillet and 20 minutes time.

If you're using the sauce for pasta, it'll be ready about the same time the pasta is cooked. If you're using it for pizza, spread it across some pizza dough, top it with a few other toppings, add some cheese and throw it onto the grill or into the oven. SO. SO. GOOD.

For Summer's Best Ripe Tomatoes

During the summer's tomato season, skip the canned tomatoes and instead make Fresh Tomato Sauce, nearly as quick, spectacularly fresh.

How do you save and share favorite recipes? recipes that fit your personal cooking style? a particular recipe your mom or daughter or best friend would just love? If this simple tomato sauce hits the mark, go ahead, save and share! I'd be honored ...
Quick Tomato Sauce for Pasta & Pizza ♥ AVeggieVenture.com, just canned tomatoes plus pantry ingredients, ready in 20 minutes.


Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 20 minutes
Makes about 2-1/2 cups, consider a double batch
Just Canned Tomatoes + Pantry Staples

28-29 ounces canned diced tomatoes (either 1 large 28-ounce can or 2 smaller 14.5-ounce cans)
2 cloves garlic (from a jar works fine)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon fennel, either ground or seeds
1 teaspoon fresh or dried parsley
A few sprinkles red pepper flakes, optional

In a large, non-stick skillet (or a large Dutch oven for a double batch), combine all the ingredients and bring to a simmer on MEDIUM heat. As the tomatoes heat up and then simmer, mash them with the flat and tip of a spatula or wooden spoon (a potato masher works especially well), breaking up the tomatoes into a chunky paste, releasing the liquid. After mashing, move the chunks to the edge of the skillet (or Dutch oven), letting the liquid pool in the center where it can simmer faster directly over the heat. The goal is to cook off most or all the liquid, reducing the sauce to about 2 cups for pasta sauce or 3 cups for pizza sauce (where both flavor and spreadability are important).

MAKE-AHEAD Yes! It's definitely smart to make this ahead of time. It freezes well too.

LEFTOVERS This is really useful to have on hand, it's easy to use up.

VARIATIONS If you like, cook a finely diced small onion with the tomatoes. For something extra-rich and unctuous, start off the tomatoes with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.

PASTA DINNER, AS PICTURED Combine all the Quick Tomato Sauce with 8 ounces (225g) dried pasta that's been cooked in well-salted water, about 8 ounces (225g) of mini tomatoes, halved; bits of freshly grated Parmesan (or fresh mozzarella, our favorite); and ribbons of fresh basil. So good!
CANNED TOMATOES Certain cooks will recommend high-quality San Marzano tomatoes for sauces like this. Me, I'm more than happy with diced tomatoes from Hunt's, Contadina, etc., brands that can be found in virtually any grocery. I am partial to so-called "fire-roasted" tomatoes.
FENNEL Do you keep fennel in your spice collection? I've learned that it's an essential spice for dishes with an Italian spirit. Like tomato sauce!

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Looking for healthy new ways to cook vegetables? A Veggie Venture is home to hundreds of super-organized quick, easy and healthful vegetable recipes and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables. Join "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg to explore the exciting world of common and not-so-common vegetables, seasonal to staples, savory to sweet, salads to sides, soups to supper, simple to special.

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2005, 2007 & 2020

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Wow, that looks like a really versatile sauce! Off topic, I tagged you for the 23/5 meme...in case you have time to write it :)

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna