Slow Chunky Tomato Sauce

Tonight I am making Lasagna Rolls and for those I need tomato sauce. It’s a cool, rainy summer day and I have piles of fresh basil in the garden–a perfect day to let some sauce simmer!

This is my recipe for a basic slow-cooked, chunky ground beef tomato sauce. There is nothing really fancy about it, except that I generally use canned summer tomatoes. Lucky for me, my mother usually makes extra jars of her tomatoes and shares them with me and my sister. I am down to the final few jars from last season–and I’ve promised to bring home the empties and learn how to can myself later this summer… which could totally happen. Mom’s canned tomatoes contain whole steamed, skinned tomatoes packed with ground, steamed tomatoes that have seeded and skinned on their way through the grinding machine (I am not quite sure how this works, but it does). This recipe will work fine with canned whole tomatoes from the store; San Marzano tomatoes are considered the best.

For the record: After I measured out the yield for the recipe, I wiped the entire pot clean with a piece of bread and ate it in addition to the diminutive “chef’s tasting” shown below. I’d say this sauce came out pretty good.

A note on the ingredients: That freezer bag in the front is frozen tomato paste. I never use a whole can at once and those tubes of paste are stupid-expensive, so I open a can and freeze what I don’t use. Works great.

Slow Chunky Tomato Sauce

Yields about 5 & 1/2 cups of sauce


  • 1 pound 80/20 ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 quart and 1 pint jar canned tomatoes, crushed by hand (about 2 28-ounce cans of whole tomatoes)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (more or less depending on how sweet your tomatoes are)
  • 2 bay dried leaves
  • bunch fresh basil, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Extra virgin olive oil (to drizzle)


Brown the ground beef in a large sauce pot over medium heat, breaking up any large chunks. Season with salt and pepper; in fact, just season with salt and pepper after each addition to the pot. This will ensure excellent seasoning throughout the dish. Add the onions and garlic. Adding the garlic with the onion will help keep the garlic from burning. Cook until the onions begin to soften. Add the dried spices, cook until fragrant. Add the tomato paste and stir. Add the crushed tomatoes with all their juices, plus the sugar. Stir and bring to a boil. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add the bay leaves. Lower the heat and cook uncovered for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally so that nothing sticks, and then lower the heat to the lowest setting, cover the pot, and simmer for about 1 & 1/2 hours. Check and stir as needed. To finish the sauce, turn off the heat and add the cheese, stir, then add the fresh basil.

We usually have this sauce over pasta with a drizzle of olive oil or served-up simply on crusty buttered bread. Like I said, I’m making Lasagna Rolls with it tonight. I can’t wait.

Slow Chunky Tomato Sauce - Chef's Tasting

Slow Chunky Tomato Sauce – Chef’s Tasting



2 thoughts on “Slow Chunky Tomato Sauce

  1. Pingback: Italian Zucchini Boats | Sara Makes Soup

  2. Pingback: Lasagna Rolls | Sara Makes Soup


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