Italian Tomato Marinara Pasta Sauce

I love Italian food, and you can't get far in Italian cooking without a GREAT tomato sauce. This is where nutrition tends to go off the rails, as all sorts of indulgent ingredients are usually added that really aren't necessary. Fortunately, a fantastic tomato sauce isn't hard to prepare. If you don't happen to have an Italian grandmother hanging around in your kitchen you can still make an amazing sauce, although you may be missing out on some great conversation while you cook.

You may be tempted to take a shortcut by using a prepared sauce from a jar or can. This isn't a cardinal sin and these sauces can be doctored up into delicious meals. The biggest problem with all of them is the very high sodium content. Newman's Own Organic sauces are the lowest in sodium and quite good, but you can still do better by making the sauce yourself.

Here is the nutritional info for some of the most popular prepared sauces. Each one is based on a 1/2 cup serving size.

Ragu Old World Organic Traditional Sauce

  • Calories: 70
  • Total Fat: 2g
  • Sodium: 470mg
  • Total Carbohydrate: 12g
  • Protein: 2g

Prego Traditional Pasta Sauce

  • Calories: 70
  • Total Fat: 1.5g
  • Sodium: 480mg
  • Total Carbohydrate: 13g
  • Protein: 2g

Bertolli Organic Traditional Tomato & Basil Sauce

  • Calories: 90
  • Total Fat: 5g
  • Sodium: 530mg
  • Total Carbohydrate: 9g
  • Protein: 2g

Hunts Traditional Pasta Sauce

  • Calories: 60
  • Total Fat: 1g
  • Sodium: 560mg
  • Total Carbohydrate: 11g
  • Protein: 1g

Newman's Own Organic Marinara

  • Calories: 80
  • Total Fat: 4g
  • Sodium: 380mg
  • Total Carbohydrate: 9g
  • Protein: 2g

Homemade Healthy Tomato Sauce Recipe

Here is an easy sauce you can make yourself that can be tweaked to your liking with your favorite ingredients. When you get the recipe down to your liking and the applause of your family it's one you can make in large batches, then freeze in meal-sized containers for later use.


3 tbsp olive oil 2 onions, finely chopped 2 carrots, finely chopped 2 celery sticks, finely chopped (optional) 1 bell pepper, finely chopped (optional) 2 garlic cloves, minced 1 bay leaf 1/2 cup red wine or 2 tsp honey (do NOT use cooking wine) 4 cans diced organic tomatoes (14 oz cans) 1 tspn salt 1 tspn dried oregano 1 tspn dried basil or 2 tspns fresh basil, finely chopped* 1/2 cup water


Heat oil in pan on medium heat and add vegetables. Stir frequently and cook until vegetables are tender - about 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and either simmer gently for at least 30 minutes with occasional stirring, or heat in a slow cooker for a few hours. The sauce should reduce and become nicely thick. Locate the bay leaf and remove it before serving.

*If you have fresh basil stir it into the sauce five minutes before serving. You can garnish with a bit more as well, being careful with quantity so the basil won't overwhelm your other flavors.