My Tomato Sauce Recipe – Learned from Dad

When I was younger, I’d come home from school and quickly do my homework so I could enjoy some TV before dinner. And like clockwork every day my dad would holler my name from downstairs to help him start dinner. I used to dread it. I was at school all day and just wanted to relax, was that too much to ask?!?!

I always wondered why he even needed me there. It’s not like I chopped, diced, sliced or mixed anything. I just passed him things. I was the nurse and he was the surgeon. Instead of “scalpel, scissors, needle…” it was “spoon, salt, pepper, etc.” It drove me crazy. But I knew better than to complain. You don’t complain to Edoardo Capano.

He’d sense my annoyance and would always say: “If you watch me cook every day, you’ll learn how to do it yourself one day. You’ll memorize every pinch of salt and every dash of oregano.” In those years, I’d roll my eyes – but not so he could see of course, that would be a stupid thing to do.

Today, my husband would kill someone for my tomato sauce. He loves it. And I have my father to thank. So I’m going to share my recipe with you. It’s pretty simple, and simply delicious. You can use it for everything from spaghetti to lasagna, poured on top of stuffed peppers and baked or poured on top of breaded and fried chicken or veal and then baked. Once you’ve got the sauce, the rest is up to you. 😉

My family makes our own tomato paste every fall, so I use one jar of our paste. However, two 28oz cans of crushed tomatoes at the supermarket will do.

What You Need

  • One large pot
  • One large jar of tomato paste or two 28oz cans crushed tomatoes (you can use a blender to puree into a super smooth consistency)
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • Kosher salt (depending on your taste buds, add a little at first and try sauce, then add more if you like)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves (can be minced or added whole for picky eaters)
  • 1 large onion (can be chopped or added whole for picky eaters)
  • Handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • Handful of fresh basil, not chopped
  • 1 whole banana pepper – don’t chop!! Keep it whole


***For picky eaters, you can toss the onion and garlic in whole so they can be taken out with tongs towards the end of cooking. However, if chopped finely, they’ll pretty much dissolve or blend right into the sauce while cooking.

  • Put olive oil in pot at medium heat
  • Chop up garlic & onions
  • Add to pot & mix to coat with olive oil
  • Cook till onions are translucent
  • Add whole jar or cans of tomato
  • For a less-thick sauce, add ¼ cup of water, otherwise leave out
  • Add salt, oregano, parsley & black pepper & stir  
  • Add whole banana pepper & handful of basil
  • Cover pot & bring to a simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring often to avoid burning the sauce
  • After 5 minutes turn to med-low heat
  • Cook for about 1 to 1 ½ hours
  • If it begins to get watery, remove lid after 30 minutes
  • Before you serve sauce over pasta, make sure to use tongs & remove banana pepper & basil

Once you have this basic sauce down to an art, you can experiment by adding more veggies like red peppers, mushrooms, etc. I enjoy a plain sauce, some others like a super hearty one. So do what you love 😉

TIP: Some people find that tomato sauce gives them heartburn because of the acidity in the tomatoes. An easy fix for that is to add a whole peeled carrot into the sauce at the same time as basil and banana pepper and remove before serving. The carrot will absorb any acidity in the sauce plus also add a little extra sweetness.

Hope you enjoy it!

5 thoughts on “My Tomato Sauce Recipe – Learned from Dad

  1. I love pasta, and home made sauces are the best! I’m not a ‘good’ cook, but when the mood (or necessity) strikes I like to dabble. I’ll definitely try this sauce out.
    Thank you so much for sharing this family secret 😉

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