Quick fresh tomato sauce for spaghetti

spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce

This recipe is for when my girls leave home.  Girls, this sauce is a good one to have to hand and can be done pretty much the time it takes to put the pan of water on for the pastadepends how quick you are at chopping.

Although this recipe is in complete contrast to my Slow Fresh Tomato Sauce the same principal still applies – very important to have ripe tomatoes.

1 – Other important rule is never refrigerate unripe tomatoes – but you should know this by now.

2 – This sauce tastes better with longer thin pasta such as spaghetti or linguini than shorter pasta such as penne.  The fresh tomatoes have a delicate flavour which tastes better when clinging on to thin strands of pasta because there’s less ratio of flour to sauce.

3 – The spaghetti or any other pasta will not stick together if you stir the pasta as soon as it has gone into the boiling water, and keep stirring until the water comes up to boil again.  With a long fork separate the strands or shapes as you stir.  Once the water is boiling again on a nice steady medium boil you can stop stirring.  The strands or shapes will be surrounded by the bubbling water and not cling on to each other.  The past won’t stick.

4 – This recipe makes enough sauce for 4-5 people, you’ll need 700g – 1kg of tomatoes.  If making the sauce for two, should use 500g (1 lb) of tomatoes because by the time they’re skinned there’s not much mass to them.


How to make fresh tomato sauce

Put the tomatoes in a large bowl and pour a kettle full of boiling water over them.  Let them sit in the hot water for 30 seconds – 1 minute, depending how ripe.

Take them out and if you prick them with the end of a sharp knife you should see the skin break straight away.

Chop them roughly.

Put the pan for the pasta on.  Add the salt now because the water will boil faster.  Cover the pan with the lid, again because it will boil faster.

Peel and chop 1 onion.  Add to a large shallow pan, a large frying pan with deep sides is good.  Add the extra virgin olive oil to the onion and start cooking the onions on medium heat.

You should start hearing a good sizzling from the onions turn the heat down so not to burn them but still hot enough to hear them cooking away.

Don’t walk away from this onion because it will burn as soon as you do.

Peel and chop 2 cloves of garlic.

When you see the onion soften and change to a golden colour add the chopped garlic and stir.

Take the basil bunch and chop the stalk end into tiny pieces, you’re using half of the bunch for now…

Leave the leafy end until the sauce is ready.

Add the tomatoes, chopped basil, salt and pepper to the onion.

Stir it in and turn the heat up to start the tomatoes cooking.

Add the parsley.  You can add it towards the end but one of you resents parsley that’s why I cook it down a little.

The sauce should be bubbling slowly away now, stir it now and again to stop the bottom of the sauce catching and burning.

By this time your pasta pan should be ready with a rolling boil.

Add the spaghetti.

As you know I break the spaghetti in half but here I’ve put it in whole in case any Italians are reading this and want to lynch me.  If you add it whole you’ll need to push it down the half that sticks out.

Keep stirring the pasta until the water comes up to boiling point again.

Now look at the sauce, it may appear to have enough liquid but often sauces like this mislead, the water will rise to the top while the solid parts get stuck to the bottom.  Stir and check how dry or wet the sauce is.

The pasta will cook before the time on the packet instructions say, normally cooked in 7-8 minutes.  You want this pasta to be on the slightly under-cooked side because it will finish off cooking in the sauce.

Here below was the pasta after 4-5 minutes and it was far too hard, I could tell just by looking at it, you’ll be able to do that with experience.  In the meantime taste it to check.  I could see the strands were still too stiff and unyielding and hard looking.

The sauce in this wide pan will be drying out and most of the liquid will evaporate, you’ll need to add a ladle full of the pasta water.

The pasta water is perfect for sauces as it will be starchy and will have the flavour of the pasta.

You want enough water to make the sauce watery but not too much.

This is how much liquid to have in this sauce.

Another minute to a minute and a half, the pasta is now ready to be drained and added to the sauce.  Should be soft and yielding but still have a starchy bite.  It will cook further and will absorb the sauce and all the flavour.


Add to the sauce.

Stir it in well.  You can add the basil now.

Keep it in the pan for one minute make sure you’ve stirred it to get as many of the strands as possible covered in the sauce.

Taste again the pasta to make sure it’s cooked otherwise cover the pan put it on low heat and let it finish off.

You should not have any liquid left in the bottom of the pan, all the flavour has gone into the sauce. This is also why bronze-die pasta is good as it will absorb the liquid nicely.

Serve.  If you putting the pasta into a serving dish it’s good to warm the dish first with boiling water from the kettle.


Quick fresh tomato sauce for spaghetti
Serves 4-5.
  • 700g - 1 kg ripe medium-large tomatoes
  • 2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 handful of fresh basil (1 x 30g packs in supermarkets)
  • 1 small handful fresh parsley (I usually use flat leaf)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (for sauce)
  • pepper or chilli
  • 400g - 500g spaghetti, preferably bronze die
  • Salt for pasta (2 generous teaspoons for large pan)
  1. Put the tomatoes in a large bowl and pour a kettle full of boiling water over them. Let them sit in the hot water for 30 seconds. Take them out and if you prick them with the end of a sharp knife you should see the skin break. Chop the tomatoes roughly.
  2. Put the pan for the pasta on. Add the salt now and cover pan, the water will boil faster.
  3. Add the chopped onion with the oil to a large shallow pan. Start cooking the onion on medium heat, once the onion starts to sizzle turn the heat down a little. When soften, appearing more translucent, add the chopped garlic and cook it for a minute.
  4. Chop half of the basil bunch from the stalk end. Chop all of the parsley. To the onion add the tomatoes, salt, freshly ground pepper or chilli, chopped basil and all of the parsley. Mix it well and bring up the heat to start the tomatoes cooking. Don't forget to stir the sauce now and again.
  5. The water should be ready for the pasta, add the spaghetti and stir it until water is back to the boil. Cook the pasta until it's soft but not quite ready. Check if the sauce needs ladle of pasta water.
  6. Drain the pasta well and throw it into the sauce. Mix until all the spaghetti strands are covered with sauce. Chop and mix in the rest of the basil. Cook on low heat for a minute and by the end the sauce should be all absorbed by the pasta.