Tomatoes in a bowl

Recipe: low and slow tomato pasta sauce

I’ve cooked homemade pasta sauce many times but this particular recipe was born in Sorrento, where our friends got married last year. We stayed in a hotel but some of the others rented a house nearby. The owner kindly gave them some tomatoes and onions from their vegetable garden so we got together to cook dinner the night before the wedding. I should add that they were proper ‘Good Life’ onions with the dried tops attached.

Ocean view from kitchen window

The kitchen was quite basic but just look at this view! We spent 2 hours cooking pasta sauce, drinking wine and looking out over the mountains in the distance. Now I think of this view every time I make it. You may even be lucky enough to look out on a view like this every day — if you are, I’d love to see it. I hope you enjoy the recipe!


  • 1.3kg ripe tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 teaspoon light brown soft sugar
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • Handful of fresh thyme
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

Serves 2-4 depending how much you eat.

Low and slow tomato paste sauce recipe

1. Chop the tomatoes

Roughly chop the tomatoes in quarters — there is no need to peel them if the skins are soft.

Optional: If any of the tomatoes are under ripe and have tough skins, you may want to soak them off first. Make a shallow cut in the bottom of the tomato and soak in boiling water for five minutes. Then soak in cold water for around a minute and peel off the skins.

2. Fry the onions until soft

Heat a tablespoon of oil and fry the onion until soft but not brown. Add the minced garlic and fresh thyme for the last minute of cooking.

3. Add the tomatoes

Add the tomatoes, sugar, balsamic vinegar to the pan and bring to a simmer. Leave to cook slowly for around two hours, stirring occasionally.

Slowness is key to a sweet sauce so don’t be tempted to turn the hob up to full whack. Cooking time will vary depending on how juicy the tomatoes are and how thick you like your sauce.

4. Season

Season with salt and pepper to taste and add a small glug of olive oil — it makes the sauce look velvety and glossy.

5. Enjoy

Serve on freshly cooked pasta and enjoy. Leftover sauce freezes really well and can be used on pizza bases.

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