Pasta and Homemade Red Sauce

By March 7, 2019May 3rd, 2024Recipes

Fresh tomato sauce from peak season tomatoes is one of life’s great delights. Yes, it is March in the Northeast, so for those of us who don’t can our own tomatoes in the summer, or if our stock begins to run low, this delight is painfully out of reach for most of the year. Luckily, there is a fix! We have the luxury of canned tomatoes which can be just as delicious with some cooking time and extra seasoning. If you want to go a step further, you can find tasty and convenient jarred red sauce, but at The Sylvia Center, we love to teach our students how it comes together from scratch. Then they can be the judge of whether or not it’s worth the extra effort.

Pair this with our roasted broccoli and you’ll have yourself a beautifully balanced, summer-like meal. Where you fall on the scale of “I could use another snowstorm” and “I need warmth and dry weather. Now.” will determine how quickly it ends up on your dinner table.

Pasta with Easy Homemade Red Sauce

Makes about 6 cups tomato sauce



1 lb pasta, any shape

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 onion, diced

1 carrot, diced

2 tablespoons oregano, minced, or 2 teaspoons dried

4 cloves garlic, minced

1-2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 15 oz can crushed tomatoes

1 15 oz can tomato puree 

5 oz spinach, fresh or frozen, thawed and drained

salt and pepper


Optional toppings & sides

Grated parmesan cheese

Crushed red pepper flakes

Side salad

Steamed frozen vegetables


  1. Cook pasta according to instructions on the box (al dente). Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water in a measuring cup, then drain and toss with olive oil to prevent sticking.  
  2. While pasta is cooking, in a medium pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Add onion and carrot and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.  
  3. Add garlic and oregano, cook until fragrant.  
  4. Add tomato paste and cook until starting to brown slightly.  Then add crushed tomatoes and tomato puree.  
  5. Simmer on low for at least 30 minutes.  Taste occasionally and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.  When sauce is ready, toss in spinach and allow to wilt (if fresh) or heat thoroughly (if thawed) into sauce.  
  6. To finish, add pasta to sauce. Use reserved pasta water to thin out the sauce if needed, and cook on low heat while tossing to coat. Remove from heat and serve with toppings/sides of your choice.

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2. In a medium pot, heat olive oil. Add onion and sauté until translucent. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Add garlic and oregano, cook until fragrant.

4. Add tomato paste and cook until it starts to brown slightly. Then add crushed tomatoes and tomato puree.

5. Simmer on low for at least 30 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed. Continue simmering until you reach your desired thickness.

6. Off heat, stir in spinach until wilted. Toss sauce with pasta, half of the basil, and some grated cheese. Oncer served, top each bowl with more basil and grated parmesan.