Let’s say it’s a busy weeknight, it’s been a long time since you’ve made a trip to the grocery store, and your kids love spaghetti, but you look in your pantry only to find there is no sign of spaghetti sauce anywhere! But you do have some tomato sauce on hand, as well as spaghetti noodles, ground meat, and all the other ingredients that you will need. You then realize you could get creative and come up with a homemade spaghetti sauce with the plain ole canned tomato sauce that’s delicious, and your kids hopefully won’t recognize the difference.

The awesome thing about tomatoes is they are pretty easily made into sauce, whatever form you’re working with — fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes, diced tomatoes, plum tomatoes, tomatoes paste. You just need to have a little creativity and open your mind to new possibilities.

Spaghetti Marinara Sauce Made From Tomato Sauce

grandma cooking in kitchen

Tomato sauce is useful when using it as a pizza sauce, but spaghetti sauce from tomato sauce? You will have to liven it up, or else you be coming up with something that tastes like spaghetti-o’s. So how should you do that?

Here’s an easy marinara sauce that will work with limited ingredients and almost tastes like some grandma in Italy had this classic Italian recipe simmering on her stove a few hours! I’ve also added some ingredients that will instantly help your kids get their servings of veggies without even knowing it! But that’s optional if you’re out of fresh produce. The point here is to keep you from going to the grocery store, so don’t sweat it if you need to skip the veggies.

The ingredient list and directions for your homemade tomato sauce

tomato sauce

Ingredients:

First, you’re going to want to get out all of the ingredients you will be using. If you don’t have it in your pantry, you can use your imagination and substitute certain ingredients.

This simple, homemade spaghetti sauce recipe includes a medium onion, fresh herbs, like fresh basil, but dried herbs also work, red pepper flakes (optional), extra virgin olive oil, parmesan cheese (optional), salt, black pepper, fresh garlic or powdered, balsamic vinegar (optional), shredded carrots and zucchini (makes a chunky sauce), tomato sauce, ground beef (Italian sausage would make it better), and a little bit of sugar. Yes, sugar! It cuts the acidity of the tomato sauce and adds extra flavor.

Directions:

Start off with sauteing the chopped onion and 2 garlic cloves, or a teaspoon garlic powder, in 3 tbsp olive oil on low heat (garlic tends to burn very easily) in a medium saucepan. A wooden spoon is my favorite thing to use as a utensil when making sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Allow to soften for about 3 minutes, and at medium heat, add ½ cup of shredded carrots and ½ cup of shredded zucchini. Cook this for 5 minutes, then add 2-3 tbsp of balsamic vinegar. You want to cook this down a bit, about 10 minutes, so the veggies eventually disappear into the sauce, and the vinegar loses its acidity and reduces to be sweeter.

Again, we are wanting to cut the acidity that is very prominent in canned tomato sauce. You’re now ready to add in the ground beef or Italian sausage. Cook until the meat is done. This is when you can add the red pepper flakes for the desired spice. If you only have dry Italian seasoning on hand, go ahead and add those as well, about 1 tbsp.

But if you have fresh herbs, which is preferable, add those at the very end. You can use flat-leaf parsley, fresh basil, thyme, rosemary, or tomato flavor. If you want to keep this a simple sauce, no herbs are required. After the meat is thoroughly cooked, add in your tomato sauce.

Depending on the size can you have, you can add in as much or as little sauce as you like. I like my sauce a little thicker and chunkier, so I don’t add as much tomato sauce. Allow this to simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes.

Before you’re ready to pour your delicious homemade spaghetti sauce over your cooked spaghetti noodles, you can optionally add your parmesan cheese, fresh herbs, and a pinch or two of sugar! Remember that Italian food most often gets better with time. So your sauce will be even better the next day or two!

If you have extra sauce leftover, put it in an airtight container and freeze for next time!

The best fresh tomato spaghetti sauce recipe

tomatoes and herbs

Fresh tomatoes sauce is delicious, refreshing, and often a healthier alternative to the spaghetti sauce at the store which if you don’t get a good brand, are full of added sugar, preservatives, and unnecessary ingredients. When you make your own food, you’re in control! And for those of you on special diets, or perhaps you’re growing your own tomatoes, making a sauce from fresh tomatoes is fun and full of possibilities.

The truth about tomatoes:

If you’re using fresh tomatoes from the grocery store, get the ones on the vine, and more preferably, organic. Most tomatoes in the grocery store that aren’t organic have been sprayed with a chemical that causes them to turn red on the outside (making them look ripe and ready), but the inside remains unripened. Studies show that eating unripened tomato seeds is damaging to your gut health and kidneys. It’s best to either scoop out the seeds with a spoon or get organic tomatoes on the vine. Better yet, grow them yourself with organic compost, organic pest control, from non-GMO, organic seeds. Since tomatoes are incredibly good for you, this is the best way to ensure you’re getting all the needed nutrients without putting harmful chemicals or unripened seeds into your body.

Ingredients:

First, you’re going to want to get out all of the ingredients you will be using. If you don’t have it in your pantry, you can use your imagination and substitute certain ingredients.

This simple, homemade spaghetti marinara recipe includes a medium onion, fresh herbs, like fresh basil, but dried herbs also work, red pepper flakes (optional), extra virgin olive oil, parmesan cheese (optional), salt, black pepper, fresh garlic or powdered, balsamic vinegar (optional) or coconut aminos, shredded carrots and zucchini (makes a chunky sauce), fresh tomatoes, ground beef (Italian sausage would make it better), and a little bit of sugar. Yes, sugar! It cuts the acidity of the tomato sauce and adds extra flavor.

Directions:

Start off with sauteing the chopped onion and 2 garlic cloves, or a teaspoon garlic powder, in 3 tbsp olive oil on low heat (garlic tends to burn very easily) in a medium saucepan. A wooden spoon is my favorite thing to use as a utensil when making sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow to soften for about 3 minutes, and at medium heat, add ½ cup of shredded carrots and ½ cup of shredded zucchini.

Cook this for 5 minutes, then add 2-3 tbsp of balsamic vinegar or coconut aminos. You want to cook this down a bit, about 10 minutes, so the veggies eventually disappear into the sauce, and the vinegar loses its acidity and reduces to be sweeter. Add in 6 fresh tomatoes that are finely chopped and let simmer for 20 minutes or as long as possible.

You can either keep this sauce chunky or add it to a food processor to make a smooth sauce. Cook your meat separately, and add sauce to your meat. If you only have dry Italian seasoning on hand, go ahead and add those as well, about 1 tbsp.

But if you have fresh herbs, which is preferable, add those at the very end. You can use flat-leaf parsley, fresh basil, thyme, rosemary, or tomato flavor. If you want to keep this a simple sauce, no herbs are required. Before you’re ready to pour your delicious homemade spaghetti sauce over your cooked spaghetti noodles, you can optionally add your parmesan cheese (about ½ cup), fresh herbs, and a pinch or two of sugar!

Fresh tomato sauce won’t last in the fridge as long as spaghetti sauce in a glass jar or canned, so make sure you freeze or can it if you make extra for future use!

How to make spaghetti marinara sauce with diced tomatoes

canned diced tomatoes

Like the above tomato sauce recipes, you can pretty much make tomato sauce out of any form of tomatoes. Next up is diced tomatoes. I mean, who doesn’t have a can of diced tomatoes that has been sitting in their pantry for 2 years?

Ingredients:

First, you’re going to want to get out all of the ingredients you will be using. If you don’t have it in your pantry, you can use your imagination and substitute certain ingredients.

This simple, homemade spaghetti sauce recipe includes a medium onion, fresh herbs, like fresh basil, but dried herbs also work, red pepper flakes (optional), extra virgin olive oil, parmesan cheese (optional), salt, black pepper, fresh garlic or powdered, balsamic vinegar (optional) or coconut aminos, shredded carrots and zucchini (makes a chunky sauce), diced tomatoes, ground beef (Italian sausage would make it better), and a little bit of sugar. Yes, sugar! It cuts the acidity of the tomato sauce and adds extra flavor.

Directions:

Start off with sauteing the chopped onion and 2 garlic cloves, or a teaspoon garlic powder, in 3 tbsp olive oil on low heat (garlic tends to burn very easily) in a medium saucepan. A wooden spoon is my favorite thing to use as a utensil when making sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow to soften for about 3 minutes, and at medium heat, add ½ cup of shredded carrots and ½ cup of shredded zucchini. Cook this for 5 minutes, then add 2-3 tbsp of balsamic vinegar or coconut aminos.

You want to cook this down a bit, about 10 minutes, so the veggies eventually disappear into the sauce, and the vinegar loses its acidity and reduces to be sweeter. Add in your can or two of diced tomatoes and let simmer for 10 minutes. You can either keep this sauce chunky or add it to a food processor to make a smooth sauce.

Cook your meat separately, and add sauce to your meat. If you only have dry Italian seasoning on hand, go ahead and add those as well, about 1 tbsp.

But if you have fresh herbs, which is preferable, add those at the very end. You can use flat-leaf parsley, fresh basil, thyme, rosemary, or tomato flavor. If you want to keep this a simple sauce, no herbs are required.

Before you’re ready to pour your delicious homemade spaghetti sauce over your cooked spaghetti noodles, you can optionally add your parmesan cheese (about ½ cup), fresh herbs, and a pinch or two of sugar!

Author

Hillary Gruener is a wife, mother, writer, and musician. If she's not at her desk writing content on family life, she's adventuring the world with her husband and two boys.

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