The Pretend Chef

Fresh tomato sauce

simple, well balanced fresh tomato sauce

Any fresh tomato sauce is only as good as the tomato used. The tomatoes should be fresh, good tasting, sweet, fleshy and fully ripe. It is a versatile sauce which is both an ingredient and a dish.

This recipe is a basic fresh tomato sauce, what Italians will call Marinara sauce. It is easy, simple and unpretentious. Marinara sauce is a base for many other dishes, just like the Nigerian tomato stew base. So make an exquisite pot of fresh tomato sauce and your other dishes that are based on it will be delectable. It can also be used as it is for a simple and quick pasta sauce because it is that delicious.

This is the sauce base for spaghetti and meatballs, Homemade pizza, etc. The name changes depending on what you add to it, example if you add minced meat, it becomes bolognese. You can transform it in so many ways by adding any or some of the following, meat, fish, mushrooms, spices, herbs, egg, cheese, vegetables etc.

meatballs added to pot of fresh tomato sauce

Usually, the skin of the tomato is peeled for this sauce. It is done for the looks, taste, smoothness and mellowness of the sauce. It is believed that the skin imparts a bitter taste to the sauce. Anyway, to cut down acidity which causes bitterness in fresh tomato sauce, you can add sugar, carrot or baking soda. I don’t like using baking soda for this sauce because it can easily be overdone, which will ruin the flavours. Baking soda also has the tendency to neutralise the natural flavours of the tomatoes giving it a bland taste. Carrots, on the other hand, add a natural sweetness to the sauce.

It is also advisable not to use aluminium pots and utensils to cook any tomato sauce. Tomatoes are acidic so reacts with aluminium to give your food a metallic taste.

For the trouble of making this versatile sauce, make a big batch and freeze in usable portions. It will stay fresh for one week in the refrigerator and up to 6 months in the freezer.

This is the sauce I used for my Spaghetti and meatballs in tomato sauce.

To prepare Fresh tomato sauce:

800g fresh whole tomatoes (10-12)
1 small carrot
1/4 cup olive oil (vegetable oil)
1 medium red onion (1/2 cup finely chopped)
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons tomato puree (tomato paste)
1 teaspoon dry chili pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry thyme
1/4 teaspoon dry rosemary, crushed
1 bayleaf
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup water
2 seasoning cubes
2 tablespoons fresh parsley (optional)

Wash, peel and grind tomatoes and carrot.

peeled tomatoes for fresh tomato sauce  ground fresh tomato for fresh tomato sauce

Pour oil into a dry pot, and place over medium-low heat. When hot, add onions. Fry slowly till soft.

onions frying for fresh tomato sauce

Add chopped garlic, fry till you perceive the aroma about 30 seconds.

Stir in the tomato puree and fry for 5 minutes, stirring so it won’t burn.

tomato puree added to frying onions in a pot for fresh tomato sauce  tomato puree added to frying onions in a pot for fresh tomato sauce

Pour in the blend of tomato and carrot.

Add dry pepper, dry thyme, crushed dry rosemary, bay leaf, salt, black pepper, water and seasoning cubes.

ground tomato and spices for fresh tomato sauce

Stir, bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer.

fresh tomato added to pot of fresh tomato sauce

Simmer sauce for 30-45 minutes stirring, if it is getting dry, add a little water and continue cooking till done.


  • To peel tomatoes easily, blanch them. It is explained here, How to blanch vegetables.
  • Do not rush the frying of the onions, the slow cooking helps draw out the sweetness of the onions which also helps balance the acidity of the tomatoes.
  • If using a blender, add just enough water to grind the tomatoes and carrot. Also, don’t bother adding the extra 1/4 cup of water. With a food processor, you don’t need to add water.
  • Try and use non-reactive cookware anytime you are cooking tomato sauce or stew like Stainless steel pots, seasoned cast iron pot, wooden spoons. Tomato is acidic and will react with aluminium to give the sauce or stew a metallic taste.

You will also enjoy my Easy Nigerian tomato stew, Nigerian boiled tomato stew, Quick and easy tomato sauce and Palm nut stew (Stew akwu). Do you have any comments, questions or suggestions, please leave a comment below.

Follow on Instagram: @thepretendchefofficial, Twitter: @thepretendchef Facebook:, Pinterest:


Share this...
Share on Facebook0Share on Google+0Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Yummly0Share on LinkedIn0Pin on Pinterest0Share on Reddit0Share on StumbleUpon0
  1. Nigerian Boiled Tomato Stew - The Pretend Chef - […] Taste and correct seasoning, if there is still some bitterness add a little sugar, see notes on dealing with…
  2. Funnel cake - The Pretend Chef - […] powdered or icing sugar, cinnamon sugar, chocolate syrup, zobo syrup, whipped cream, even marinara sauce or any pepper/tomato sauce […]
  3. How to make meatballs - The Pretend Chef - […] of ways, in a sauce, on a hot dog bun, on pizza, in egg muffins etc. Meatballs also add…
  4. Spaghetti and Meatballs in Tomato Sauce - The Pretend Chef - […] in tomato sauce and the sauce used for this dish is my simple and exquisitely delicious Fresh tomato sauce (Marinara…
%d bloggers like this: