California Central Coast Recipes

Light Tomato Sauce

Our version of a Light Tomato Sauce is for those times when you want a simple but light sauce for pasta, vegetables or seafood that doesn't drown out the flavors of the foods underneath. When you're tired of heavy sauces--but want a touch of "tomatoes with character" this is the sauce to make! And it's a cinch to throw together! A side note, Frank Sinatra often requested a sauce like this on penne pasta when he'd return from a heavy traveling concert schedule and was tired of the heavy meals.

Unlike a Basic Marinara Sauce or my Basic Homemade Tomato Sauce which I use for pizza, this is NOT a smooth sauce. You want the texture of the tomatoes. Think chunky, but it is not a heavy sauce! This sauce keeps its individual pieces so there are separate flavors when you bite into the underlying food. This sauce does NOT overwhelm but rather accents and enhances the flavors of the dish. Add salt and pepper according to your taste and the requirements of the dish.

The Key to making this sauce is to either use fresh tomatoes in the summer or in the winter a good canned tomato. In the summer when fresh ripe tomatoes are available, use those to make this sauce, but you need to seed and juice them first. You just want to mainly use the flesh of the fresh tomatoes.

In the winter use good quality "no salt added, in their juices" canned tomatoes -but don't use the juices. Just use the whole tomatoes and then lightly chop or pulse for a just a few seconds in the food processor. Actually, this is my favorite way to make the sauce because it's so easy and fast to make--and inexpensive. For example the label "Best" has 14.5 ounce cans for 58 cents at the Food 4 Less chain of grocery stores and they make a great sauce.

In the summer, when really savory basil is available, I use just it for seasoning with garlic of course. But in the winter when only store-bought basil is available, I like to substitute a little dried oregano for the basil and a little bit of fresh Italian parsley for seasoning.

This sauce is so flexible and lends itself to so many kinds of meals that now I think that this is my favorite tomato sauce of all time! Surprisingly, the canned tomatoes are a really good substitute for fresh! It's a VERY satisfying sauce and one I'm sure once you've tried it, it'll will be yours too! ©2018, Light Tomato Sauce
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
re-calculate ingredients for:


2 to 3 Tablespoons Extra virgin Olive oil
2 to 3 Medium cloves Garlic , peeled and chopped
1-1/2 pounds fresh ripe Tomatoes , seeded and juiced and chopped OR
2 14.5 ounce cans Whole Tomatoes in their juices , drained and lightly chopped or pulsed for a few seconds in a food processor
1/2 Cup fresh Basil , chopped OR
1 teaspoons Dried Oregano
1/4 cup Italian parsley , rinsed and chopped
Salt and Freshly cracked Black pepper to taste

Preparation Directions.

1 In a large non-reactive (stainless is best) saucepan, heat olive oil over medium –low heat. Add garlic and let cook until fragrant (one to two minutes.) Do not brown. Add tomatoes. Stir- picking up bits of the garlic from the bottom to disburse. Add your seasoning -Basil or Oregano and parsley if using. Continue to cook and pick up bits of ingredients up through the sauce until the sauce thickens just a bit but the tomato chopped pieces still maintain their form.

2 Add the salt and freshly cracked black pepper and stir well to evenly distribute throughout the sauce. Correct seasonings to taste.

3 Serve over pasta, vegetables or meat as required.

Wine and Food Pairing and Serving Suggestions.

This is a very light tomato sauce. A rustic red wine such as a Primitivo, Sangiovese or Chianti would go well.

A tip from Sue!

Make your salt and pepper your "right -hand" aid

An easy tool to have handy at all times in your kitchen is your customized combined salt and pepper shaker. Buy a clear plastic shaker with a handle on it. Make yourself a "customized salt and pepper combo or "house blend." Ours is three parts ground pepper to one part salt. Having one of these handy really cuts the prep time down when doing breading and preliminary cooking!