whole food ~ well made

meatball tasting with parmesan cheese

Tomato Sauce in 5 Minutes–as Made in Rome

I’m in Portland for a conference of culinary professionals from all over the world. Well, a lot of the international guests couldn’t quite make it over the pond because of copious amounts of volcanic ash in the sky.

One of those who did arrive on time is Wendy from Rome who owns Flavor of Italy, a bed and breakfast and cooking school.

Over lunch we talked about Italian ingredients. She had scoffed when I told her that I sometimes add sugar to my tomato sauce to balance the acidity that makes my kids object to its tartness.

meatball tasting with parmesan cheese

“No sugar!” Wendy commanded with a scowl.

Right then and then she gave me a verbal cooking lesson on making real Italian tomato sauce.

“Italian food is simple,” she said with a dramatic sweep of her hands. I guess after 25 years in a country, you even pick up the hand gestures.

“Five minutes, it’s done,” Wendy said. “I guarantee your kids will love it.”

I replied: “And so will I.”

Here’s hoping you do, too!


and become a forager

meatball tasting with parmesan cheese
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5 from 1 vote

Wendy's 5-Minute Italian Tomato Sauce

This recipe is the essence of traditional Italian cooking: excellent ingredients you don't mess with any more than necessary. For me the ideal tomato is home-canned tomatoes from a local grower, But if you're out, like me, or don't can, buy the best organic canned tomatoes available.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 213kcal
Author Lynne


  • 1/4 cup best-quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt


  • Heat the olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and let it fry in the oil for 1 to 2 minutes until aromatic and softened but not browned.
  • Drain the tomatoes and add them to the pot. Smash with a potato masher until the consistency you like. Cover the pot and cook for 5 minutes, until you see the oil pooling on the surface of the tomatoes.
  • Season with the salt, adding more to taste, and serve over the boiled pasta of your choice. 


When cooking pasta, be sure to make the cooking water nice and salty. Wendy uses two fistfuls of coarse sea salt in her pot.


Calories: 213kcal


  1. MJ

    5 stars
    This sauce is so simple and delicious, like Gramma’s. Thanks for getting me back to basics!

    1. Right?!? Thanks for the rating.

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