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Anthony Stella's Tomato Sauce

Salsa di Pomodori di Antonio Stella


Chef Anthony Stella surprised me with his method for making tomato sauce. Forget about the traditional fresh garlic and fragrant basil as co-ingredients with juicy plum tomatoes.

Instead, onions wrapped in cheesecloth and Hunt's canned whole tomatoes are his choice because he believes that these tomatoes are sweeter and more consistent in flavor than the imported San Marzano types.

I was skeptical, but Chef Anthony made a believer out of me when he demonstrated this recipe on our series and confirmed that there is indeed more than one way to make a good tomato sauce.

It is important that the sauce cook uncovered, and that the sides of the pot be scraped down frequently; these techniques are the secret flavor enhancers. This is an all-purpose tomato sauce. Chef Anthony especially loves it on his homemade potato gnocchi.


1 large onion (8 ounces), peeled and cut in half through the root end

1/2 cup Filippo Berio extra-virgin olive oil

2 (28-ounce) cans of Hunt's whole tomatoes

2 teaspoons brown sugar

Fine sea salt to taste


Wrap the onion in cheesecloth and set aside.

Pass the tomatoes through a food mill over a bowl. Discard the seeds.

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and pour in the tomatoes. Stir to blend the ingredients. Place the onion in the center of the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, and allow it to simmer, uncovered, for 1 1/2 hours.

Several times during the cooking, scrape down the sides of the pot. Stir in the sugar and salt. When it darkens in color and has reduced in volume to become thick, the sauce is ready to use, or to freeze for future use.


  1. Brian Corbett's avatar

    Brian Corbett

    Anthony Stella's Tomato Sauce is the best! I make it at least 3 times a month, freezing any that is left. So simple to make, so flavorful and perfect for any pasta dish. Thank you Mary Ann for allowing me access to such an incredible recipe! I love you Mary Ann! Cin Cin!!!
  2. Helen Colyer's avatar

    Helen Colyer

    Sounds like a good quick tomato sauce - something I have been looking for. However, I do not have a food mill. Can I use the immersion blender then strain the seeds out?

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