Indulge in the vibrant flavors of summer with this delightful homemade cherry or grape tomato sauce. Bursting with freshness and simplicity, this chunky tomato sauce is a perfect accompaniment to your favorite pasta or veggie spirals. In just 15 minutes, you can create a mouthwatering dish with a few simple ingredients. Let’s dive into this quick and easy recipe!
(Published Aug 25, 2022. Updated June 10, 2023.)
Why This Works
- Simple and easy-to-find ingredients
- Short ingredient list
- No special equipment needed
- You can use jarred minced garlic for convenience
- Customizable to suit your taste
- Great recipe for using up tomatoes that are about to turn.
- Can be enjoyed with other foods besides pasta
Ingredients and Nutrition
- Olive oil – Start this sauce right and buy the best quality olive oil you can afford. Olive oil is packed with monounsaturated fat–a heart-healthy fat that can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. Loaded with powerful antioxidants, olive oil consumption may also help fight inflammation. 
- Tomatoes – Nutrients and antioxidants in tomatoes can support immune function, heart, and eye health . Lycopene, one of the antioxidants in tomatoes, may also help reduce the risk of prostate cancer . Use fresh cherry or grape tomatoes, baby Roma, or small garden tomatoes for this chunky tomato sauce recipe.
- Garlic – Contains beneficial compounds that may help with inflammation, heart health, and clearing up the skin . While I use fresh garlic in this recipe, you can also use jarred minced garlic for convenience.
- Italian seasoning – A versatile blend of dried herbs and spices that includes a combination of dried basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and sometimes additional herbs like marjoram or sage. It saves time by providing a well-balanced mix of flavors in one jar, perfect for recipes that require multiple herbs individually.
- Fresh Basil (optional) – High in vitamin K–an essential nutrient for proper blood clotting to prevent excessive bleeding. Fresh basil offers a distinct and aromatic flavor that enhances the taste of dishes. It has a sweet, slightly peppery, and herbaceous taste with hints of cloves and anise.
Firstly, start with coarsely chopped garlic if you’re using fresh garlic.
Next, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet or saucepan. Add the chopped fresh garlic and cook for about a minute. If you’re using jarred minced garlic, cook for about 20 to 30 seconds.
Then add the tomatoes, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Cook and stir occasionally, allowing the tomatoes to burst. This will take about 6 to 8 minutes.
If you’re planning to cook pasta to go with your cherry or grape tomato sauce, it’s a good idea to get started on that now. Don’t forget to set a timer!
Use a wooden spoon, fork, or potato masher to smash some of the tomatoes. This will release the tomato juices some more.
Lastly, add the basil and stir to combine with other ingredients. To add some heat to the sauce, you can sprinkle a small amount of crushed red pepper flakes. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
Remove from heat and serve over cooked pasta. Garnish with more fresh basil if you’d like. Try this chunky cherry or grape tomato sauce with crusty bread and other foods. See next section for more serving suggestions. Enjoy!
What to Eat with Chunky Tomato Sauce?
In addition to pairing this chunky tomato sauce with pasta and bread, there are several other delicious ways to enjoy its flavors:
- Pizza Topping: Use the sauce as a base for homemade pizza. Spread it over pizza dough, add your favorite toppings, sprinkle with cheese, and bake.
- Bruschetta: Top toasted baguette slices with the chunky tomato sauce for a flavorful bruschetta appetizer. Optionally, you can add a drizzle of olive oil and some fresh basil leaves for an extra touch.
- Grilled Vegetables: Add the sauce onto grilled vegetables such as zucchini, eggplant, or bell peppers.
- Stuffed Bell Peppers: Fill hollowed-out bell peppers with the tomato sauce, sprinkle with cheese, and bake until the peppers are tender and the cheese is golden and bubbly.
- Sandwich Filling: Use the chunky tomato sauce as a condiment or filling for sandwiches. It adds a refreshing and tangy twist to burgers, grilled cheese sandwiches, or paninis.
- Baked Chicken or Fish: Spoon the sauce over baked chicken breasts or fish fillets before cooking for a tasty and light main course.
- Veggie Dip: Mix the tomato sauce with some Greek yogurt or sour cream to create a flavorful and creamy dip for fresh vegetables or chips.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. The key to experimenting with different herbs is knowing when to add them to the cooking process. It’s best to add dried herbs at the beginning of cooking, so their flavors have time to infuse the dish.
The taste will be different but still delicious. You can add dried basil at the beginning along with the tomatoes. Dried oregano, thyme or marjoram would also work well.
Add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of whatever dried herb you choose when you cook the tomatoes. As always, taste and adjust!
If you’d like to try other fresh herbs, like parsley or chives, add them at the final step.
This cherry or grape tomato sauce is supposed to have a chunky consistency. But do what works for you and blend away to the consistency you want. Despite the additional step of blending, I’ve experimented with that method and found the results to be equally delicious!
Allow the sauce to cool off before storing. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat the sauce in a skillet on the stove or in the microwave.
Store the sauce in an airtight container or freezer bag in the freezer. Frozen cooked tomatoes can retain their quality for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to eat the sauce, defrost and reheat.
Cherry or Grape Tomato Sauce 6 Ingredients
- 1 chef knife
- 1 cutting board
- 1 large skillet or wide saucepan
- 1 utensil for mashing tomatoes – wooden or heat-resistant spoon, fork, or potato masher
- ½ cup olive oil
- 6 garlic cloves coarsely chopped (or 3 teaspoons of minced garlic – see notes)
- 2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes 2 pints = 4 cups
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- salt and pepper ½ teaspoon each or to taste
Optional: ½ cup fresh basil, torn or roughly chopped; ⅛ to ¼ crushed red pepper flakes
- Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet or saucepan. Add garlic and cook for about a minute. If you're using jarred minced garlic about 30 seconds will do.
- Add tomatoes, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Stir occasionally and cook until tomatoes burst and release juices. About 6 to 8 minutes. Use a heat-resistant or wooden spoon, fork, or potato masher, to smash some of the tomatoes for a chunky, rustic sauce.
- Add the optional fresh basil and crushed red pepper flakes and combine with the sauce.
- Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
- Serve with pasta, veggie spirals, crusty bread, toast, eggs, or a grain bowl.
Tried this recipe? What variations or adaptations did you make? Share in the comments.