Lazy Tomato Sauce (Part 2 of the Spaghetti and Meatballs Series)

I like to read a lot of recipes and then make my own version that is as lazy easy as possible. I LOVE Deb at the Smitten Kitchen, and I love Jessica at How Sweet Eats, and so many other incredible food bloggers. I love reading their intricate recipes and seeing how they add little flavors and special touches to take their food up a level. I can imagine a world where I have the time and money and ingredients and dishes to make the kind of food they make regularly, and it is a good life.

But I don’t live in that world.   For my life right now, the fancy-pants cooking required by a lot of recipes I read online isn’t worth an extra trip to the store or any additional dishes to wash. So I modify.

Below is a lazified version of a fantastic recipe that Deb from the Smitten Kitchen posted a few years back. The recipe was for homemade lasagna made from homemade pasta and homemade sauce. And holy cow – I would love to try making pasta and maybe one weekend it would be fun to try making the whole thing. But what I learned from this wonderful recipe was that you can make your own tomato sauce from regular old canned tomatoes. So we gave just that piece a try.

When we first made the recipe, my husband liked the flavor but hated the texture. He is usually open for most anything but couldn’t stand the lumps in the sauce and basically refused to eat it. To problem solve, I ended up putting half of the entire original recipe in the blender, then pouring it back in the pan and cooking the whole thing down until it looked right. Even then it was delicious, but it created a huge mess and there was no way I was doing that again.

Here’s my shortcut method for getting the consistency and flavor our family likes using the ingredients we keep on hand.

Lazy Tomato Sauce (best served with yesterday’s Turkey Meatballs)

spaghetti and meatballs

If you can’t tell from the photo, this sauce is fantastic.

Here’s what you need:


½ white or yellow onion

Red pepper flakes


28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes

15 oz. can of diced tomatoes

Red wine (I always use leftover drinking wine so it’s usually a cab sav or something Tuscan)

Here’s what you do:

Melt two tablespoons of butter in a big pan over medium heat.

Chop up about ¼ of a white onion (more if you love onion!) and throw it in the melted butter to soften. Add in ½ tsp. of crushed red pepper flakes and 1 tsp. of salt.

Once the onions are soft and smelling awesome, pour in some red wine. The original recipe called for a couple of glugs, but I think I use more like 4-5 glugs. In my medium-sized pot I pour in about an eighth of an inch of wine. It sizzles and smells divine. Let it cook until the wine is bubbling and beginning to cook down.

Open up two cans of tomatoes: One 28-oz. can of CRUSHED tomatoes and one 15-oz. can of DICED tomatoes. (For the diced, I often get yummy fire-roasted or even the basil and oregano flavored tomatoes.) Pour in the tomatoes and stir.

The sauce looks a bit soupy right now. I usually have a heart attack every single time (OH NO! I PUT TOO MUCH WINE!), but it’s always fine. So don’t worry. There’s no such thing as too much wine.

Turn the heat up pretty high. You want popping bubbles but you don’t want to clean tomato sauce off the side of the refrigerator so find a good balance and stir every now and again until you like the consistency. I’d say 30 minutes on average. You aren’t really “cooking” any of the ingredients at this stage, you’re taking it from good to great and you can’t do that wrong. Take your time with it and let it go until you know it is ready.

I prefer to serve this with yesterday’s meatballs over spaghetti. And, I usually freeze a quart-sized freezer bag full of sauce so that I can grab it and thaw for dinner emergencies.

This sauce is easy to make and it is delicious. Give it a try.


This recipe is modified from Deb Perelman’s Fresh Pasta + Basic Tomato Sauce recipe available at:

This post is number 22 of my #write31days project 31 Days in the Pink-Briefcase Kitchen. You can follow along with the series each day in October. An archive of posts is available here, or just click on that big button on the right sidebar.


One comment

  1. Pingback: Spaghetti Magic | Pink-Briefcase

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