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Tomato 'Mother' Sauce

The Hunter's Pantry Tomato 'Mother' sauce

Tomato ‘Mother Sauce’.

This is my family’s sauce.  It was, and is the basis of many a quick but delicious dinner – it is all about concentrating the flavours and balancing the acidity.  I prefer the sauce quite smooth as it is just a little more versatile – I also like the fact that the prep is very fast (thanks to the use of a food processor – not relying on my dodgy knife skills..) It can just simmer away in the background.

Personally, I make at least this recipe x 4 and freeze it down in portions from 250ml (perfect for ravioli) to 1L for a ragu recipe.

You will need:  A heavy-based stock pot or Dutch oven with a lid, a food processor, spoon, ladle, and lots of containers or a cryovac machine.



  • Two 400g cans of baby or Roma tomatoes (I like the Italian DOP or Marzano but use what you like – and yes I SHOULD use Australian…) – Blitzed in the food processor
  • 100ml or a little more grapeseed oil
  • 1 large onion chopped coarsely
  • 200 guanciale or pancetta chopped into smallish chunks (you could use bacon if you choose but cut off the rind and excess fat) – you can leave this out entirely if you prefer to have a vegetarian base – just adjust the salt and you may need more oil
  • 1 carrot – chopped coarsely
  • 2 sticks of celery chopped coarsely
  • 1 red capsicum seeds and core removed
  • 2 whole garlic cloves minced
  • 3/4 cup of red wine
  • 1 bottle of passata
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons (or to taste) brown sugar – this entirely depends on the acidity of the tomato and balsamic
  • Splash of Worchester sauce
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • ¼ bunch of parsley (whole)
  • 2 teaspoon fennel seeds – toasted and ground
  • 1 teaspoon of dried chilli flakes toasted


Preheat the oven to 160C

Place onion, guanciale (or other meat), celery, carrot, and capsicum into the food processor and blitz until it becomes paste-like.

In a heavy-based stockpot or Dutch oven add some grapeseed oil and the pureed paste, turn the heat to medium, and cook, stirring regularly until the fat has come out of the meat and the onion smells sweet.  This should take about 15-20 minutes. Be gentle and patient - too much caramelisation will result in a bitter sauce. Add the minced garlic, fennel seed, chilli flakes and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the blitzed cherry tomatoes and their syrup and the passata.  Add wine, balsamic, sugar, bay leaves, thyme parsley and 2 cups of water.  Once the mixture is simmering, reduce heat and simmer with a lid partially on,  or better still cover and place into the oven. Leave to cook for 2 to 3 hours.

Remove from oven and allow to cool. Season and remove what remains of the herbs and now is the time to puree this again if you wish with a stick blender, then divide into containers to freeze. 

How to use:

Pat yourself on the back.  All the hard work (and it was not that hard) is done – now you can just pull multiple meals together without compromise!

  • This sauce is perfect as it is over ravioli or as the sauce for spinach and ricotta cannelloni or an Amatriciana.
  • Heat sauce in a pan and add lamb, beef, pork or turkey mince for a great bolognese or the basis of a ragu.
  • Use the sauce as the base of a con carne – just add spices and beans.
  • Perfect for Eggplant parmigiana or of course a snitty parm.
  • Add chickpeas, paprika, cumin eggs and cayenne pepper and enjoy a delicious shakshuka for breakfast.
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