Summer-Saving Frozen Tomato Sauce

Penne with Claire's tomato sauce

Penne with Claire's tomato sauce  (Julie Bidwell)

  • Prep Time


  • Cook Time


  • Total Time


  • Servings


New Haven, Conn.-native Claire Criscuolo serves this tomato sauce at her restaurant, Claire's Corner Copia.


  • 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 large cloves garlic, cut into thin slices
  • 15 Plum tomatoes, frozen and defrosted, peeled and coarsely chopped or squeezed to burst, either by hand or in a processor, include juices
  • 2 Basil “ice cubes” or 5 leaves fresh basil
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste


Step 1:

  • Rinse plum tomatoes, place single-layer on cookie sheets and keep in the freezer until frozen solid. Store frozen tomatoes in plastic bags. Place washed and drained basil leaves with just enough water necessary to puree in a blender. Transfer the basil puree into ice cube trays and freeze for future use.

Step 2:

  • When you are ready to make the frozen tomato sauce, hold tomatoes under hot tap water until the skin bursts, then place them into a bowl to defrost. When they defrost, remove the skin and squeezed tomatoes slightly.

Step 3:

  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Step 4:

  • Add the remaining ingredients and stir to mix.

Step 5:

  • Cover and bring to a medium boil, then lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, or until the sauce is reduced by about half.

Step 6:

  • Season to taste. Makes about 3 cups, enough for 12 ounces to a pound of pasta