This is the basic tomato sauce that I use in many recipes. If there is a profusion of tomatoes in my garden I make a batch and freeze 250ml quantities to use throughout the year.

The Tomatoes

If you do not have perfectly ripe, preferably home grown tomatoes, rather use tinned or tetrapack tomatoes. The correct cultivar tomatoes are preserved at prime ripeness and usually contain no added ingredients, therefore are often more flavoursome than fresh tomatoes.

In the past tomato sauces often called for sugar, but when they are used at premium ripeness they are naturally sweet.

I prefer white onions as the red ones spoil the red colour of the tomatoes. I use coarsely chopped onions (quartered and sliced 5mm thick) for a sauce that will form the basis for a poultry, meat or fish dish. Finely chop the onions for a pasta sauce.

Herbs such as basil, oregano, marjoram or parsley marry well with tomato but should be added in the last 15 minutes of cooking. The choice of herb is determined by the end use of the sauce.

Garlic and chilli may be added once the onion is tender, depending on the end use of the sauce.

For the basic sauce you need

2-3 white onions, chopped

100 ml canola or sunfower oil

2 kg fresh tomatoes blanched and peeled and chopped


750 ml – 1000ml tetrapack or cans of chopped tomatoes in juice

20ml good quality vegetable stock powder

5ml salt

To prepare

Heat the oil. Add the onions and gently cook them until they become translucent and soft, but they must NOT brown.

Add the tomatoes, stock powder and salt and allow the sauce to simmer for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the mixture is too thick it will burn, so add some water, rather than shorten the cooking time.

I used this tomato sauce in the stuffed squid recipe.