How I Made My First Red Sauce (kind of)

It’s day two of Dipstock and so far, so good. To kick off the festivities I tried at least eight different sauces and dips with girlfriends yesterday. The pictures and recipes are coming soon…

In the meantime I want to tell you a little bit about my experience making red sauce.

Some of you might know that I am on a journey to learn how to make sauce. I’ve done little in the way of sauce making (even though I love to eat it), but I’m committed to coming up with 100 different sauce making tips to share with others who also want to learn how to make it (you can read those tips here > How to Make Sauce).

Last week, I tried my hand at creating a tomato sauce. I had two purposes for the sauce: I needed tomato sauce for a special Puerto Rican dip I wanted to make (I’ll talk more about that next time) and for a traditional spaghetti. I only fulfilled the first purpose, since a couple of problems arose.

1. I might’ve had the heat a little too high, which meant most of the moisture evaporated.

2. I don’t have a food processor or a blender (at the moment), so it would have been one terribly chunky sauce. Really, it was more like a salsa than a sauce.

Considering this, I take back my headline to this post. This is actually how I made my very first salsa. Yea. Salsa. I should also talk about the first photo to this post. That is NOT my photo (credit goes to Little Blue Hen on Creative Commons). Mine didn’t turn out so pretty, as you can see here.

The recipe for tomato sauce that I followed came from Simply Cooking, a nice little blog full of recipes and foodie insights. (I use strike through for steps I didn’t take and turquoise font for ingredients/steps I added myself.)

* 1 tbsp. olive oil

* 1 clove garlic, minced

* ½ 1/4 medium onion, minced (optional)

* 2 jalapenos

* 1 14-ounce can diced or crushed tomatoes

* 1 tbsp. tomato paste (optional)

* ¼ cup red wine (optional)

* Salt, pepper, other seasonings to taste

*Handful of fresh cilantro

Instructions: Heat the oil over medium-low. Saute the garlic and and onion until golden. You can add other aromatics at this point, like mushrooms, carrots, celery, peppers or chilies, if you like.

Add the tomatoes. If you want a thicker sauce, stir in tomato paste. Season — an Italian dried herb mix comes in handy right about now. Cilantro works, too.

Raise the heat to medium and simmer until it starts to look “saucy,” about 10 minutes (long enough to cook the pasta) or up to 45 minutes, if you so choose. Taste the sauce frequently while it’s cooking. If it tastes too acidic, stir in a little sugar. Leave it chunky or puree if you want and serve over pasta. Serves 2-4.


Upon realizing that I had the heat too high, I lowered the temp and added a few tablespoons of water. Despite my mess up, it  still tasted great. The garlic and cilantro flavors both came through perfect to my taste. And although it didn’t work as spaghetti sauce this time around, I definitely intend to try the recipe again. Next time I’ll use medium-low heat the way I’m supposed to, of course.

Check back tomorrow for day 3 of Dipstock and to see how I incorporated this salsa into a crave-worthy Puerto Rican dip.


  1. I’m belatedly catching up on your blog!

    This looks good. I’m going to can whole tomatoes and puree next month. Maybe I’ll get really ambitious and do some sauce too.

  2. I hope you do. Send me a link or photos of what you come up with. I need help in the sauce department.

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