This Greek spaghetti sauce with tomatoes & basil is made with basic pantry ingredients and tastes immeasurably better than the best supermarket sauce.
Greeks never (well, almost never) buy tomato sauce for pasta or anything else. Homemade tomato sauce is a must. When I first moved to the United States I could not believe how many version of marinara sauce were available from the supermarket.
At home I always make my own sauce, no matter what. It will have to be a real emergency if you see me with a jar of tomato sauce at the grocery store 🙂
I make this bright red, tomato basil sauce primarily for spaghetti. But it can be used as is or as a base in other recipes with tomato sauce, such as eggplant beef stew, papoutsakia, soutzoukakia etc.
- Ripe tomatoes, or canned San Marzano D.O.P. tomatoes
- Red Onion
- Fresh basil
- Bay leaf
- Dry oregano
- Brown sugar
- Cinnamon stick
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground pepper
How to make this Greek spaghetti sauce
This is my go-to basic tomato basil sauce for spaghetti that I make for years. It is really easy. I like to let it simmer from 45 minutes to an hour, sometimes longer. The longer it simmers the more the flavors deepen and develop.
Add 2-3 tablespoons olive oil in a sauce pan. Season with a pinch of salt to make the onions "sweat". Sauté in medium heat for 2-3 minutes.
Add the garlic, a generous pinch of dry oregano, 3-4 cloves, a bay leaf, cinnamon stick some freshly ground pepper and stir. Sauté for another 2 min.
Add the chopped tomatoes and half a cup of water. Stir well.
Optional: Add a teaspoon of brown sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes. You don't have to do that if you are using San marzanno tomatoes or seasonal fresh ripe tomatoes. Please use your judgement on this step. It is a matter of preference. I like my tomato sauce a little sweet without too much acidity.
Add the chopped basil leaves. Stir well and bring to a boil for 1 min. Lower heat and let sauce simmer for 45 min to an hour. Adjust sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Serve over spaghetti with a sprinkle of fresh basil leaves on top and a swirl of extra virgin olive oil.
This is a very versatile sauce
If you have leftovers you can:
- Use this Greek spaghetti sauce in room temperature for bruschetta. It tastes amazing over warm bread with some goat cheese on top.
- Brown a couple chicken thighs and add them in the sauce. Add some stock or water, bring it to a boil. Cover and cook it in a low oven (300 F) for 45 min or so. It is a similar recipe to this braised chicken.
Tips & substitutions
- It goes without saying that you can use any canned tomatoes you like or already have in your pantry. If you are using regular canned diced tomatoes add a little sugar like I mention above. It cuts the acidity and makes the tomatoes. more flavorful.
- When I cook San Marzanno tomatoes, since they are always whole in the can with the tomato juice, I just add everything in the pot and lightly press the tomatoes with a wooden spoon to break them into smaller pieces.
- Don't stress if you don't have fresh herbs available. Dry oregano always does the trick. Same goes for dry basil. I have even used Herbs de Provence when I was running out of my favorite greek dried herbs.
- The Greek tomato soup with feta & basil has traditional flavors and it’s really easy to make.
- This beef ragú pasta sauce is slow cooked to allow flavors develop & shine.
Check all the pantry items a Greek kitchen wouldn’t go without.
If you’ve tried this recipe or any other on The Greek Foodie, then don’t forget to rate it and leave me a comment below! I would love to hear about your experience making it.
- Sauce pan
- 2 lbs ripe tomatoes grated or 3½ cups canned San Marzano D.O.P. tomatoes
- 1 medium red onion diced
- 2-3 garlic cloves minced
- 5-6 fresh basil leaves coarsely chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 pinch dry oregano
- brown sugar optional
- cinnamon stick
- 4-5 cloves
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt
- freshly ground pepper
- parmesan cheese
- fresh basil leaves
- Add 2-3 tablespoon olive oil in a sauce pan. Add the diced red onion. Season with a pinch of salt. Sauté in medium heat for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the garlic, a generous pinch of oregano, 3-4 cloves, the bay leaf, the cinnamon stick some freshly ground pepper and stir. Sauté for another 2 min.
- Add the tomatoes and half a cup of water. Stir well. ( Optional: Add a teaspoon of brown sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes. You dont have to do that if you are using San marzanno tomatoes or seasonal fresh ripe tomatoes. Please use your judgement on this step. It is a matter of preference too) Add the chopped basil leaves. Stir well and bring to a boil for 1 min.
- Lower heat and let sauce simmer for 45 min to an hour. Adjust sea salt and pepper to taste.