Gloria's Basic Tomato Sauce (gravy?)

Updated: Nov 11, 2019

Basic Tomato Sauce

Gloria’s Tomato Sauce (or Gravy)

My family is not Italian, but my mom could make a great tomato sauce and meatballs. She gave me this recipe when I first moved out on my own and surprisingly, I could make it. She would always say that if you could taste any one ingredient, then you added too much. Most of the ingredients are approximations – exact measure isn’t required unless noted. It might be similar to your recipe or it might be completely different, but it is definitely very tasty over a bowl of steaming rigatoni. You should give it a try and tell us what you think…

Ingredients –

3 Cans Tomato puree (Wegman’s brand is good) **You could also switch out 1 can for a can of crushed tomatoes

4 TBSP Olive Oil

2 Tsp Dried oregano

2-3 Tsp Dried basil (or 8 fresh leaves chopped finely)

2-3 TBSP Garlic powder (or 3 – 4 TBS of chopped garlic)

~2 Handfuls or more grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

2 Tsp Salt

2-3 Tsp Black pepper


Open the three cans of tomato puree and set them near the stove along with a lid for the pot.

In a large pot (large enough to hold the 3 cans) add the olive oil and turn on the heat to medium high. After about a minute, add the oregano by pinching it in to the oil (pinching it releases the oregano oil from the leaves). Allow the oregano to become a little toasted. Once the oil starts to smoke, add the first can of tomato puree – because of the water and oil mixing, there will be some splash back. Put the lid on the pot, after a few seconds, add the other two cans. Rinse each of the cans with enough water to loosen any tomato puree in each can and add to the pot. Add the basil (if using dry, pinch it in to the sauce). Add garlic, salt and pepper, finally add cheese and stir well.

Turn on high and allow the sauce to come to a boil. As soon as it boils, turn down to a simmer, cover and cook for about 2 hours. Taste after ½ hour and adjust ingredients – to taste. Remember to stir periodically so it doesn’t burn on the bottom.

If adding meatballs and/or sausage, fry in a sauté pan until well browned and about ½ cooked. Add the meat to the sauce, one at a time. Once all batches of the meat are added to the sauce, add a ladle full of sauce to the sauté pan with a medium high temperature. It will splatter because of the oil. Scape the bottom of the sauté to release all of the brown bits from the bottom. Dump the contents of the sauté in to the sauce and stir well. Allow sauce to continue cooking.

The sauce can cook for as little as 1 ½ hours to up to 3 hours. Tasting it will be enough to determine if it is done. It can be made a day in advance and heated before being used.

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