There’s no need to save pasta for picnics once the weather gets warm. Use Fresh Tomato Sauce to keep classic Italian pasta dishes seasonal and bright during summer months by using fresh tomatoes and fresh herbs. This fresh marinara sauce is done in a fraction of the time of a heavier slow-cooked sauce. Naturally vegetarian with vegan, paleo, and Whole30 options.
The pressure to “have it all” has been exasperating folks for years. Mostly because that concept has been taken to a rockstar level of ambition that frankly, I don’t have. So will I ever have it all? Will I ever have Cristal, Maybach, diamonds on a timepiece, jet planes, islands, or a tiger on a gold leash? Yeeeeah… no. No I won’t.
But I will have something much more precious than all those things. And that’s lov… Psych. It’s pasta and red sauce year round. And I will fight (words not hands!) anyone who suggests it’s gauche.
When I talk about eating seasonally, I don’t mean that you can’t squirrel away things like fresh basil or berries or a Cadbury Creme Egg in your freezer for off-season emergencies. That being said, there is no reason that in the middle of the summer you need to pull frozen bags of homemade pasta sauce from January to satisfy a craving in July.
We may not be able to have it all, but we certainly don’t have to give up what we have. Some people have decorative pillows for all four seasons. Many folks put away one whole wardrobe to make room for shorts and sundresses. And don’t tell me you don’t know people who have lengthy conversations about seasonal beers. There is no reason you should not also transition your homemade pasta sauce recipe.
So keep this recipe for spaghetti sauce with fresh tomatoes in your back pocket until we hit peak-tomato this year and enjoy. I promise – you will break neither a literal, nor figurative, sweat. And if you want to thank me, I won’t say no to the Cristal.
Is This Marinara?
You betcha, it is! Marinara sauce with fresh tomatoes just substitutes canned tomatoes (and, in most cases, tomato paste) for fresh, but still relies on garlic, onion, and herbs to create that robust, zesty flavor. Tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes is totally worth the (minimal) extra effort – it’s definitely not as rich as “Sunday Sauce,” but the light, bright, fresh flavor is perfect in warmer weather.
Fresh Tomato Pasta Sauce Ingredients
- Fresh Tomatoes (see below for more info!)
- Sweet Onion
- Fresh Thyme and Oregano
- Salt and Pepper
- Olive Oil
What Kind of Tomatoes Can I Use?
To be honest, the varietal doesn’t matter as much as freshness does. You want to take advantage of all of the natural sugar in juicy, ripe fresh tomatoes to make this homemade tomato sauce really shine. (It also works out great because those super ripe tomatoes always make for soggy salads and sandwiches anyway!)
The best varietals for marinara sauce with fresh tomatoes are locally sourced when possible/available, perfectly ripe, and super juicy. Garden tomatoes are perfect, but so are heirlooms from your local farmer’s market, or romas from your co-op. You could also go with cherry tomatoes, brandywines, sunbursts…there are loads of possibilities. This sauce is perfect for those “ugly” tomatoes your farmer is selling for half-price – they might not be perfectly round, but if they’re ripe and juicy, they’re perfect for this fresh tomato sauce recipe!
How to Make Pasta Sauce from Fresh Tomatoes
Fresh tomato pasta sauce is a recipe that never goes out of style. Deeply flavorful, stupid easy, and incredibly versatile, this homemade marinara sauce with fresh tomatoes is a recipe every home chef should master. Plus it’s ready in less than 45 minutes so and doesn’t turn your kitchen into a hotbox.
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- Roughly chop the tomatoes into a 1″ dice. Occasionally sweep the tomatoes and the accumulated juices into a bowl.
- Saute onion and garlic in butter and olive oil until soft.
- Add the tomatoes and their juices (plus water or broth if desired, see below), along with fresh thyme and fresh oregano. Season with salt and pepper.
- Bring the liquid to a simmer. Cook uncovered over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes completely break down.
- Optional: transfer to a blender and pulse or puree until smooth.
Tips for Making This Recipe
- Use the freshest, ripest tomatoes you can find.
- The tomatoes don’t need to be perfect! Tomato “seconds” from the farmer’s market are perfect for making sauce and soup. They don’t look the prettiest, but they still taste amazing.
- Use fresh herbs if you can, but if they’re not readily available, substitute for ¼ teaspoon of each to give it a “kiss” of flavor.
- Tomatoes need a lot of salt to bring out their flavor. If you’re sensitive, start with 1 tsp and adjust to taste.
Make it Your Way
- For a Thinner Sauce: add ¼-1/2 cup water or broth after the tomatoes have cooked down.
- For a Chunkier Sauce: add an additional tomato, some more onion, or even toss in a sweet bell pepper – roughly chop, do not mince.
- To get a Smoother Sauce: transfer to a stand blender; pulse or puree until desired consistency is reached.
- Make it Vegan: substitute vegan butter, or omit and double the olive oil. Use water or vegetable broth for thinning (if needed).
- Make it Whole30 and Paleo: use ghee in place of butter; thin with bone broth or water.
Storing and Freezing
FRIDGE: Store in the fridge for up to 3 days in a tightly sealed container.
FREEZER: Store in the freezer for up to 6 months. Tip: double the recipe. Just do it. It’s such a welcome and cozy treat in the dead of winter.
More Recipes Using Fresh Tomatoes
- Creamy Roasted Tomato Soup
- Fried Green Tomato BLT
- Bruschetta Stuffed Avocados
- Caprese Chicken
- Heirloom Tomato Galette
Did you make this fresh tomato sauce recipe? I’d love to know how it turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
Fresh Tomato Pasta Sauce RecipePrint Recipe Rate this Recipe Pin Recipe
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium sweet onion, diced to ½"
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 lb fresh tomatoes, chopped to 1"
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp ground pepper
- ½ c water, broth, or white wine, optional, depending on preferred consistency
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 1 sprig fresh oregano
- Tie the herbs together with a piece of cotton kitchen twine. Core and dice the tomatoes. When dicing, occasionally sweep into a bowl to capture both the tomatoes and their juices.
- Heat a heavy bottomed pan or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the butter and oil to the pan and heat until the butter melts, then foams. Add the onion and sautee, stirring occasionally, until soft, 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, water or broth (if using), salt, and pepper; give everything a good stir. Top with the thyme and oregano bundle.
- Increase heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce to medium low to maintain a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid evaporates and the tomatoes fall apart, 20-25 minutes.
- Optional: transfer the sauce to a blender and pulse or puree to smooth the sauce to your desired consistency. Makes 1.5-2 cups, based on texture and consistency.
- Toss with 1 pound cooked pasta and serve immediately. Or, store in the fridge for up to 3 days in a tightly sealed container, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.