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'End of Season' Tomato Sauce

This comforting, aromatic tomato sauce is cooked low and slow, makes your home smell heavenly, and will provide you with delicious batches of homemade sauce for months to come.

The recipes we know best are often the most difficult ones to write. We can prepare them in our sleep. They’re second nature and spiritual. I don’t believe I, or anyone in my entire family, has ever written down a tomato sauce recipe...until now. As a largely intuitive cook, it can be a real challenge to compose and convey a recipe that has resided in my memory, heart, soul, and bones pretty much since birth. A recipe like this is an heirloom, but that’s why I’m trying to change the pattern in my family where no one writes anything down. I mean, I'd give anything to ask my grandfather how he makes his glazed chicken or mouth-watering dinner rolls right now. These recipes are so important and so special. They connect us across generations, which is one of the main reasons we all love home cooking SO much in my family! That’s why I finally hunkered down to write, film, and document this ‘End of Season’ Tomato Sauce recipe both here and on my Instagram, where it can live forever. This is an example of things living on the Internet forever being a good thing.

*Full disclosure: this is not my “official” Sunday Dinner Sauce recipe, but it’s very similar. I am still waiting for the moment and inspiration to strike where I sit down and compose that recipe with the time, thought, love, and emotion it deserves. I’ll need to carve out days on the calendar for that one. I have faith the moment will arrive when it’s supposed to. Perhaps in my first cookbook, Universe???

However, this recipe is VERY special to me and something I make each year around the end of September AKA the end of another bountiful season of ripe, sweet, plump, juicy summer tomatoes. This is a tradition I began myself a few years back, and it’s one I just really enjoy and plan to share with Cecily as she gets older. It symbolizes more than the recipes it’s incorporated into or cooking traditions. It represents the end of another season of delicious, light, bright summer cooking and warm summer nights, and the beginning of the cooler weather months and a holiday season full of warming, nurturing, hearty comfort food and cold days spent warming up in the kitchen, having guests over and pumping out delicious food for my family.

This recipe is a whole thing for me. I go to the farmers market and collect the ripest, sweetest, juiciest looking tomatoes I can find, along with my onion and a huge bushel of parsley, and I collect tons of the freshest basil ever from my mom’s herb garden. I go to a local Italian market and splurge on a high quality wedge of Parmesan cheese with the best rind I can find in the bunch and really good, robust olive oil. I also make sure I’m stocked up on mason jars, since they wander off throughout the year between recipe testing, storing food in the freezer, and carting new creations to friends’ homes for them to sample.

Now, you obvi don’t have to do all of this. I’m just inviting you into my state of mind here, because creating this recipe can be a really beautiful and spiritual process.

This ‘End of Season’ Tomato Sauce’ is easy to make, cooked low and slow on the stove (making your home smell like heaven), and super convenient as a time save since you’ll have perfectly portioned amounts of sauce stored in your freezer for up to six months, making it easy to grab in batches for pastas, pizzas, soups, and more without worrying about waste or time crunches. Your home is going to smell and feel like a big warm hug for months to come. I hope you enjoy this recipe and tradition as much as I do.

Watch we make this recipe HERE. If you make it, I'd really love to see. Please tag me @threebirdsonestove.

Prep: 20 Minutes

Cook Time: 2.5 Hours

Yield: 8-10 Cups


2 ½-3 pounds seasonal ripe tomatoes

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 large sweet onion (about ½ pound), peeled and chopped

6 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced

1 6-ounce can tomato paste

1 28-ounce can tomato sauce

1 bushel fresh parsley leaves

1 bushel fresh basil leaves

Pinch of cane sugar (1-2 tablespoons)

¼ cup preferred milk (I love to use oat milk)

¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Parmesan cheese rind (optional)

Kosher salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste


*Entire recipe is prepared over low heat.

  1. Slice off and discard the top of each tomato and then cut the tomatoes into large chunks and add them to a blender or food processor. Pulse a few times to begin breaking the tomatoes down and then chop until slightly chunky. If you prefer a smoother sauce, just continue to pulse and chop until you reach your desired consistency.

  2. Heat the olive oil in a large sauce pot or dutch oven. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper, and sauté for about 5 minutes. Then add the garlic. Continue to sauté, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent and the garlic softens, 4-5 more minutes.

  3. Add the tomato paste and tomato sauce and stir until combined. Then add the parsley, basil, and sugar and stir again to combine. Season again with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer with lid tilted for 1 hour, stirring a few times throughout.

  4. Stir in the milk, cheese, and rind and season with salt and pepper to taste if desired. Continue to simmer for 1 ½ hours.

  5. Remove sauce from heat. Remove the rind, stir sauce again. If storing, allow the sauce to cool down a bit before pouring into mason jars. Store in the freezer for up to 6 months.

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