Homemade Tomato Sauce for Pasta

There’s nothing like a great, homemade tomato sauce for pasta when you fancy something yummy and filling. Actually, since eating gluten-free, I don’t eat pasta very often – but just occasionally I get that real hmmmm, I fancy pasta! moment.

And this is one of my favourite sauces to go with it. I used to live in Italy and when I was there I would eat pasta every day! One of the sauces I loved was called arrabiata sauce (which, roughly translated, means angry sauce because it contains chilli so it bites!).

As well as arrabiata, I loved the good ‘ol homemade tomato sauce, or pomodoro sauce which used to take hours to cook properly according to Italian tradition. The recipe I’m sharing here is a blend of three things: arrabiata sauce, pomodoro sauce and modern timing i.e. quick cooking. Sorry Italy but I think you’d still approve of the flavour despite the hours not being spent on it.

spaghetti with vegan tomato sauce

How to Make The Sauce

So the basis for this recipe is lots of fresh tomatoes. I grow tomatoes in the garden, so in the summer it’s no problem to go and pick a pan full for supper but if you don’t have a veggie garden, you can buy a load from the shop. Big, fat, juicy, ripe-red tomatoes work the best as they give a totally sweet flavour compared with the small salad tomatoes we get in the supermarkets.

Heat some olive oil in a saucepan and add 3-4 chopped cloves of garlic plus one red chilli (if using). Allow the garlic to really cook and get brown before you add a finely chopped large onion and a sprinkle of salt. If you like a veggie in your sauce, you can add it once the onions are half cooked and turning translucent. I added a small amount of finely chopped green & red pepper.

Leave the onion (and veggies if using) to cook on a medium heat while you get busy chopping all the tomatoes. How many tomatoes depends on how much sauce you want to make, so just go with your gut instinct and remember that they will shrink in the sauce so don’t skimp on the tomatoes!

bowl of spaghetti with vegan tomato sauce
Delicious tomato sauce topped with vegan parmesan substitute!

When you’re happy that the onions are properly cooked through and flavoursome (even a little caramelised or brown is fine – the tastier the better). Now it’s time to add the chopped tomatoes and a little more salt. Allow the tomato mix to cook on a heat that’s high enough for the sauce to begin to boil and reduce itself.

I peel my tomatoes because they’re giant and the thick peel comes away really easily. If I were using small tomatoes I wouldn’t bother to peel them. Just chop them up into small bits in preparation for the cooking.

The trick to this sauce is to make sure the onion stage is long enough for the flavour to come out and then to leave the sauce alone for long enough while the tomatoes reduce themselves.

Once the sauce is well on its way and beginning to reduce, it’s time to put on the water to boil for the gluten free spaghetti or whatever pasta you’re using. The timing should be about right if you do it like this. You can bring the water to the boil and cook the pasta and just as the pasta’s almost ready your tomato sauce should be thickened and juicy and tasty. At this point add some ground black pepper and a slosh of plant based unsweetened milk to the sauce.

Taste to be sure. The flavour should be rich and sweet. Serve on gluten free spaghetti or on your favourite pasta with cashew nut parmesan substitute sprinkled on top. Enjoy!

Fresh Tomato Sauce for Pasta

Delicious fresh tomato pasta sauce

10 minPrep Time

30 minCook Time

40 minTotal Time

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  • Lots of fresh tomatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 red chilli
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 1 small green pepper or other veggie of choice (not essential)
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • slosh of unsweetened plant-milk


  1. Gently fry the garlic until beginning to turn brown
  2. Add the fresh chilli and chopped onion
  3. Season with salt to taste
  4. When the onions are translucent, add the green pepper if using
  5. Leave the onions to fry until they're really tasty and well cooked
  6. Add the chopped tomatoes to the pan and allow to simmer
  7. Leave to simmer and reduce while you prepare the pasta
  8. Just before serving, add a slosh of unsweetened plant milk
  9. Taste to check the flavour and adjust if necessary
  10. Serve on pasta and enjoy!


You can make this sauce with tinned tomatoes but the flavour will be different. If using tinned tomatoes you can reduce the heat and leave the sauce on a low heat to improve the flavour. Serve on pasta with vegan parmesan and gluten free bread.

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