Sicilian-Style Tomato Sauce

This is my go-to tomato sauce I use in many preparations. I love it in lasagna or simply as a quick and easy pasta sauce. Use the freshest possible tomatoes for this sauce, and do not cook them too long so they preserve their fresh flavor.

For me, the addition of cinnamon makes all the difference. This is clearly an influence from Northern Africa…and that gets at my roots. But most of all, I think the cinnamon just blends extremely well with tomatoes.

I usually make a double or triple batch of this sauce and jar the leftovers. It is very nice to have it on hand during the evenings when I feel a bit stuck in what to make.

Yield:  about 4 servings

  • extra virgin olive oil, to taste

  • 2 garlic cloves, whole

  • 2 fresh bay leaves

  • 500 grams (1 pound) sicilian tomatoes (or very flavorful red tomatoes)

  • 40 grams (1 ½ ounces) tomato paste

  • 120 ml. (1/2-cup) white wine

  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

  • ground cayenne pepper and ground paprika to taste

  • sea salt and black pepper to taste

  • 1 whole cinnamon stick

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

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  • Heat a wide pan over medium heat.
  • Add about 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil to the pan with 1 tablespoon water. Add the garlic and bay leaves. Heat just long enough to warm the garlic and bay leaf.
  • Purée the tomatoes in a blender, then add to the pan. Combine well.
  • Mix the tomato paste with the white wine, then add to the tomatoes with the chopped parsley.
  • Add the paprika, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper.
  • Cook over moderate heat for no more than 30 minutes. This is important because you don’t want the tomatoes to change character too long and take on a cooked taste. This is a fresh tomato sauce.
  • Add the cinnamon stick and ground cinnamon, remove the pan from the heat and stir well.
  • Adjust the seasoning then add a bit of olive oil if you like.
  • Cover and cool completely.
  • Reheat gently over medium heat before serving.

Jack’s Fresh Tip

You can also make this sauce completely oil-free. At the beginning of the recipe, simply add a bit of water and lightly crush the garlic to release the flavor into the water. Proceed as normal and don’t add any more oil at the end.

Consider making a double or triple recipe and simply can the leftovers. Place the sauce in hot sanitized jars (put the jars in a 140° C oven for 20 minutes) and seal immediately.

Techniques used

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