There are some recipes that bring you back to your childhood, and this summer sauce recipe is absolutely one of them. I will never forget the way my mother made this: whole tomatoes, oil, garlic, basil, and a touch of salt. It’s literally that easy. Simple recipes like these are why I love food, and why I continue to create recipes for all of you!
While this recipe is called "summer" sauce, it can be made all year long. Tomato season is in its peak during July/August, but you can make this really any time.
This recipe is a perfect pasta course for my creamy tuscan chicken recipe (link recipe), a main course paired with a cocktail like my citrus spritz cocktail (link recipe), or a precursor to dessert like my oreo cookie bars (link recipe).
What are the ingredients for this recipe?
One of the reasons I love this dish is because it’s made with simple, easy, and accessible ingredients. All you need is the oil in your home, as well as garlic, fresh Roma tomatoes, basil, and that is it!
- Roma Tomatoes - these have a natural sweetness to them, and when simmered let out a lot of liquid, hence a lightened up sauce.
- Olive Oil
See the recipe card below for specifics about ingredient quantities.
How do I make this recipe?
I guarantee you, this is one of the easiest sauces you will ever make, considering it takes minimal prep time, and only one pot. Add all the ingredients to a pot, cover, and let it do its thing. Specifically, here's how we do it:
Rinse and prep your tomatoes: Slice each Roma tomato lengthwise to make two halves, then slice again to make quarters. Remember to keep the skin on! Finely slice the garlic cloves and set aside.
In a deep pan, heat the tablespoons of oil on a medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes to the pan, toss them in the oil to coat and cover, lowering the flame to medium. Let the tomatoes sweat and “stew” down for approximately 5-6 minutes. The tomatoes will begin to separate from the skins, this is what we want! Add in the garlic, salt, and cover again.
As the tomatoes begin to soften, use the wooden spatula or tongs to lightly press into each tomato to create a “sauce” – the tomatoes will turn very soft and start to resemble a tomato sauce. Take the basil leaves and roll them on a cutting board; slice them into thin strips and add to the tomato sauce, this is called a "chiffonade." Lower the flame to a simmer and let it cook for another 3-4 minutes. The sauce is ready when the tomatoes have completely broken down, skins have separated, and the ingredients resemble a light sauce.
HINT: Add the garlic in midway through the tomatoes cooking down, this will alleviate the garlic overcooking and burning.
Recipe Swaps and Substitutions
This recipe is naturally gluten free, and vegan. However, here's a few alterations and swaps if you're looking to make this more your own:
- Tomatoes - instead of using fresh tomatoes, feel free to use a can of whole tomatoes.
- Basil - I strongly suggest using fresh basil for this, but if you do not have it, dried basil works here too.
- Pasta - spaghetti is classic for this type of sauce, but you can use other shapes like rotini, rigatoni, or fettuccine.
What can I use this recipe for, other than pasta?
Of course, this sauce goes perfectly with pasta, but if you plan on making this a full meal, you can easily pair this sauce with:
- Grilled, pan seared, or breaded chicken
- Roasted vegetables
Kitchen Tools and Equipment
What I love about this sauce is the minimal kitchen tools you need to make. All you need is listed below:
- Deep pot - You will make the entire sauce in this pan, so you literally do not need much more than that.
- Wooden spatula or tongs
- Cutting Board - to quarter the tomatoes
For the pasta, you'll need:
- Large pot
How do I store (or freeze) the leftovers?
This recipe holds up well in the freezer in a tightly sealed container for up to one month. Defrost the day before you plan to use it.
For leftovers: you can place in a tupperware and place in the fridge. The sauce will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Sprinkle the tomatoes with a good amount of salt as they render down in the pan. This will help season the entire sauce, and also aid in the breakdown of the tomatoes themselves.
Hungry for more?
Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:
Best Summer Sauce Recipe
- 1 Deep pan
- 1 Wooden spatula
- 1 strainer for pasta
- 1 large pot for pasta
- 8 Roma tomatoes quartered lengthwise
- 3 cloves garlic thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 5 basil leaves chiffonade
- Oregano optional
- To prepare the tomatoes, rinse and slice lengthwise to make two halves, then slice again to make quarters. Remember to keep the skin on!
- Finely slice the garlic cloves and set aside.
- In a deep pan, heat the tablespoons of oil on a medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes to the pan, toss them in the oil to coat and cover, lowering the flame to medium. Let the tomatoes sweat and “stew” down for approximately 5-6 minutes.The tomatoes will begin to separate from the skins, this is what we want!
- Add in the garlic, salt, and cover again. As the tomatoes begin to soften, use the wooden spoon or tongs to lightly press into each tomato to create a “sauce” – the tomatoes will turn very soft and start to resemble a tomato sauce.
- Take the basil leaves and roll them on a cutting board; slice them into thin strips and add to the tomato sauce.
- Lower the flame to a simmer and let it cook for another 3-4 minutes. Serve over pasta, fish, chicken, or vegetables.