Recipe: Shop bought tomato & basil pasta sauce

So a few weeks ago, my wife came back from our new local Waitrose (a supermarket) with a tub of fancy organic tomato and basil pasta sauce.  We don't normally eat fancy tomato sauces, but having watched Eat Well for Less on TV that week and seen a bit they did on how much sugar was in brand-name pasta sauces she decided to buy something fancy and organic.

The sauce was nice. Simple, as you might expect, but expensive (also as you might expect) - at £3.50 a tub (which fed my Wife and I, plus a child size bowl of pasta for elder son) it seems pretty nuts to me.

Anyway, having heard the price, and then having read the ingredients (tomato, garlic, onion, butter) I decided to reverse engineer it. I have made lots of tomato sauces, but usually just basic tomato/vinegar/sugar type things - normally something to compliment other meals (in a lasagne for example) which is usually fine, but they don't really provide the same shop bought taste (not that this is a bad thing - but pasta sauces from a jar are never just tomato, they have a lot of other crap going on).

So yesterday afternoon whilst I was making pizza with my eldest son (following on from our welsh cakes) I had to make a tomato sauce for the base so decided to have a first pop at this sauce.  It was a few weeks since we have had the fancy-organic sauce, so honestly can't remember what that tasted like - but this sauces tastes good, and my wife agreed that it definitely tastes reminiscent of a fancy branded pasta sauce (in a good way) - plus there is no crap in it!


  • half an onion, fairly finely chopped
  • a clove of garlic, finely chopped (or crushed)
  • a carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 100 grams of butter (I guess - this was by eye - but a chunk to cook the veg, then a chunk at then end - you could prob go with two decent sized tablespoons)
  • Tomatoes - I used 680 ml plain passata, but that was because we had that and no tinned tomatoes, if we had tinned I would have used those. You could probably use a 400 gram tin of chopped tomatoes and not adjust the other components and get pretty similar results to be honest.
  • tablespoon tomato puree
  • handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped


  1. Melt half the butter in a saucepan
  2. Add the chopped onions, and cook on a medium heat until soft and slightly translucent
  3. Add the chopped garlic and cook for another minute or so
  4. Add the chopped carrots, and cook until soft - you can take you time with this
  5. Add the tablespoon of tomato purée and stir through - cook for another 2-3 minutes
  6. Add the tomato passata and cook for 10 minutes or so. Don't reduce it so much that it gets thick, you want it still fairly liquid at this point (we will blend it later, so it needs to support the blended solids from the veg) - if it is getting thick just stir in some cold water whilst cooking
  7. Transfer the sauce to a liquidiser/blender and blend until smooth (and, well, the consistency of a shop bough sauce)
  8. Add the second half of the butter - buzz it again in the blender to mix that through - this will bind the sauce and give it a richer, glossier finish
  9. Add the chopped basil - If finely chopped you could leave it at that, but I blended it again to finish off.
  10. Serve with pasta, like you would your favourite tomato & basil shop bought sauce.

rob hinds Shambolically fumbling my way around the kitchen

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