6 am tomato sauce

6 AM Tomato Sauce| theclevercarrot.com

I’ve always been an early riser.

When the birds are up I’m up, and there’s nothing more satisfying than basking in a full 60 minutes to myself before the rest of the house rolls out of bed and asks me for breakfast… and socks.

Morning’s are when I get to create!

In fact, I learned something interesting about myself; if I don’t allow myself some ‘playtime’ in the morning regardless of how much work I have to do, or where I need to be, I’m totally cranky for the rest of the day until I get it out of my system. I’m like a pressure cooker.

It could be as simple as writing a few pages in my notebook (I do this every morning, religiously), making a batch of sourdough, or even lighting a darn candle while stirring my oatmeal.

It’s still dark at 6 AM, you know.

6 AM Tomato Sauce| theclevercarrot.com

Recently, I made this tomato sauce.

It all began with fresh tomatoes from our garden and a side of coffee for my early morning self.

My husband picked pretty much everything we had left so we could make a huge pot of sauce to freeze in individual portions. I have one of those vac-pack machines and I literally suction everything in sight!

This recipe is a twist on my all-time favorite sauce by Marcella Hazan. It’s the only tomato sauce I make with slight variations when the mood strikes.

To start, I sauteed two sliced leeks in butter until lightly golden. Then I threw in the tomatoes. I used about 6 lbs. in total- a mix of yellow tear drops, plum, cherry, and orange sun golds- it’s all good. You could always halve this amount if it’s too much. The large tomatoes were chopped into chunks and I left the small ones whole.

For the next step, I added a handful of chopped basil and seasoned everything with salt and sugar. I used about 2 heaping teaspoons of sugar for 6 lbs. of tomatoes. Keep in mind, the exact amount of seasoning will all depend on how sweet your tomatoes are and the variety you are using. Just taste it. Use your judgement. And your tastebuds. It should be slightly sweet, but in a good way.

I simmered the sauce until the tomatoes got nice and soft. The whole cherry tomatoes will eventually burst on their own so you don’t have to worry about them. It’s kind of fun to watch.


6 AM Tomato Sauce| theclevercarrot.com

At this stage the sauce will be slightly watery, which is ok.

I removed the pot from the heat and pureed it until smooth. Do this with a stick blender if you have one so you don’t have to deal with pouring molten hot sauce into a blender. Also: don’t wear white.

Then to the pot, I added 5 tablespoons of butter and reduced the sauce a little bit more until velvety smooth. When you do this, make sure to taste it a few times to see if it needs more salt. Tasting is the type of thing you’ll have to do over and over again until the flavors are spot on. I know- life’s so rough, right? I would highly suggest dipping some delicious bread into the pot if you need a vehicle for tasting! I’m an expert at this ;)

When the sauce cooled down a bit, I poured it into pretty mason jars…

6 AM Tomato Sauce| theclevercarrot.com

And that’s it!

I’m telling you this is THE BEST tomato sauce in the whole wide world.

There’s something about the butter that just mellows out the acidity of the tomatoes. And the sweetness! I love a good tomato sauce that has a hint of sweetness to it. It reminds me of my Grandma’s sauce.

This can be used for pasta (obviously),  pizza, chicken parm,  sausage and peppers, but here’s a great tip: use it for soup! I like to add a ladle or two to my minestrone. It adds such a nice flavor and texture since the sauce is a little bit thick. Just don’t forget to freeze whatever you’re not using in all different sized portions for grab and go convenience.

♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦

PS: On a slightly related note, by the time you read this I’ll be on my way to ITALY! I’ve been so excited about this trip I can’t believe the time has finally come. And I can’t wait to take lots of pics so you can see! If you’re into pasta, bread, wine and beautiful scenery don’t forget to follow along on Instagram! I’ll see you there. xx E

6 am tomato sauce
  • 7 tbs butter, divided
  • 2 leeks, thinly sliced, white and light green parts only
  • 6 lbs assorted colored tomatoes, roughly chopped with the smaller cherry tomatoes left whole
  • Small handful of fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 heaping tsp sugar, plus more to taste
  • salt, to taste
  1. In a large heavy bottom pot (a Dutch oven is perfect for this), melt 2 tbsp of butter over low heat. Add the leeks and saute until soft and translucent. A little golden color is okay at this stage.
  2. Add the tomatoes, basil, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Stir to combine.
  3. Simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, until all of the tomatoes have broken down and are nice and soft. This will take about 30 minutes or so.
  4. Remove the pot from the heat and puree with a stick blender, including the basil leaves. Alternatively, puree in batches using a blender.
  5. Return the pot to the stove and add the remaining 5 tbsp of butter. Simmer over low heat until the sauce is slightly reduced and velvety smooth. Taste and season with additional salt or sugar, if needed. The flavor should be slightly sweet.
  6. Pour into mason jars to cool before refrigerating. You can always freeze the sauce in individual portions once it has cooled completely.



  1. Jennifer says

    What Italy?!! Sounds wonderful!!! This sauce looks great too. I love that you added butter. Butter always makes everything better. Enjoy your trip Emilie. Can’t wait to see your photos!

  2. says

    Good morning! Your 6am timing could not have been better, as I too am an early riser and find dawn to be a beautiful time to savor life. And, yesterday I happened to harvest a basket full of cherry tomatoes from my garden. So they will be put to very good use using your recipe, which sounds divine!

  3. Ana Victoria says

    Hello, thanks for the delicious recipe… it looks easy to do… sorry to ask, was expecting the best way to sterilize the bottles to freeze the sauce in…. if you know where to find the way, please send the link. I am going to follow you from now on … and enjoy your trip to Italy…. thanks

  4. Beverley Press says

    Enjoy fabulous Italy, it’s a wonderful country to visit . I still enjoy my early mornings to myself even though we have been empty nesters for 8 years! It’s a time when the house is still asleep and you can plan your day and collect your thoughts. Delicious looking recipe xoxo

  5. says

    This tomato sauce is phenomenal, and so easy to make.
    I used it in a lasagne dish last night. Side note, I used fresh picked chard in lieu of the spinach.
    Hands down, one of the best lasagnes I’ve ever made!
    It was comparable to the fantastic lasagne I was treated to in Deruta, Italy a few years back.
    This tomato sauce recipe is a keeper, thank you so much Emilie.

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