This healthy tomato sauce is a super handy recipe to have in your repertoire. You'll find yourself using it over and over again. And making a homemade tomato sauce means that you know exactly what goes into it, and can cut down on salt and additives.
Making a sauce from vegetables is a super easy way to eat an extra portion of veg. And this healthy tomato sauce is also much lower in fat and sugar than many bought sauces.
Ingredients for healthy tomato sauce
Tomatoes are the hero ingredient. Unless you are lucky enough to have a fabulous supply of tasty homegrown tomatoes, I think canned tomatoes work best in a tomato sauce. Chopped canned tomatoes are ideal, but you could also use whole plum tomatoes and just squish them down in the pan.
In addition to canned tomatoes, I also add tomato puree to this recipe, as it increases the rich tomato-y flavour of the sauce. Tomato puree in a tube is convenient as it can be easily resealed.
Onions and garlic increase both the flavour and the nutritional value further. The natural sugars in onions complement the tomatoes perfectly. Onions are also a prebiotic, which means that they provide a particular type of fibre which support the beneficial bacteria in your gut. If you want your sauce to be quite smooth, chop the onion finely.
Herbs will also add both flavour and goodness. Mixed dried herbs will be just fine. But if you have some, basil is of course the perfect companion for tomato, and thyme is also delicious. If you use fresh basil, tear it with your hands and add it at the end of cooking so that it keeps its fresh green colour.
It's very quick and easy to make this healthy tomato sauce. There are 2 simple steps: saute the onions which adds extra flavour, and simmer the ingredients to reduce the liquid and concentrate the sauce.
- Heat a frying pan over a medium heat and add the olive oil. Then add the onion to the pan and fry for about 5 minutes. The onion will start to soften and go slightly caramelised. This caramelisation will sweeten the sauce and take the edge off the acidity of the tomatoes.
- Add the remaining ingredients, and allow the sauce to simmer gently for 20 minutes.
If you want a super smooth sauce, you can blitz it with a hand blender.
How to use healthy tomato sauce
Healthy tomato sauce makes a perfect topping for pasta and pizza. For a quick pizza recipe, top these 10 minute flatbreads with tomato sauce and some grated cheddar or mozzarella. Pop under the grill until browned and bubbling.
This homemade tomato sauce is also delicious with white fish, chicken or meatballs. Try poaching eggs in the sauce for a quick lunch or breakfast. Or add some cooked white beans to transform it into a light lunch.
Storage and freezing
If you are not using this sauce immediately, it will store in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days. Healthy tomato sauce also freezes well. But it has so many uses, you'll probably find that you have used it up before you have time to freeze it!
Frequently asked questions
Tomatoes contain a nutrient called lycopene which actually increases when tomatoes are canned, so don't worry about missing out on the benefits of fresh. Lycopene helps to protect your heart, brain and eyes, and even plays a role in helping to prevent cancer. (Read more about the amazing health benefits of lycopene here)
Homemade tomato sauce is better for your health, and your bank balance. Many bought sauces contain additives, and on the jar that I looked at, there was more sugar than onion. In this healthy sauce, onions provide natural sweetness, and there's no sugar required. You can also control the amount of salt that you add to your own sauce.
Healthy Tomato Sauce
- 400 g canned tomatoes
- 1 onion peeled and chopped
- 1 clove garlic peeled and very finely chopped or crushed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon tomato puree
- 1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs or use fresh thyme or basil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the olive oil in a pan over a medium heat and add the onion. Cook for 5 mins until starting to soften.
- Add the remaining ingredients and simmer over a low heat for 20 mins.