Homemade Tomato Sauce

Homemade Tomato Sauce

Of course there are places in the Strip where you can buy wonderful, quality tomato sauces – but I like the ability to customize my own sauce, and it’s less expensive than buying specialty sauces from the store.  Also, I know that by making my own sauce, it won’t have any of the preservatives or other strange ingredients that sometimes make their way into the usual grocery-store brands.

When I saw the display of enormous canned goods in Sunseri’s, I could not help but buy a big can of tomatoes to make a very large batch of tomato sauce.  This tomato sauce is extremely easy to make and uses basic ingredients you could find anywhere – you can get the fresh produce and herbs for this recipe at Marty’sStan’s, or Wholey’s, – I was shopping early in the day so I purchased all of my fresh ingredients and PennMac.  When shopping for canned tomatoes, I like to look at the ingredients on the label to find one that contains only tomatoes, or maybe just tomatoes and salt.

It’s impossible for me and my husband to eat all of this sauce before it goes bad, so I like to divide it up into jars or small containers that I can keep in the freezer and pull out to defrost whenever I need them.  If you have the equipment, you could also can it.  I use this sauce in pasta dishes, soups, on pizza – it’s so versatile!

Tomato Sauce Ingredients

1 very large (6 lb 9 oz) canned crushed tomatoes
2 large onions, chopped
2 carrots, finely shredded
1 stalk celery, chopped
8 cloves of garlic
1 bunch fresh thyme, stems removed
1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Canned Tomato


Shredded Carrot

Sliced Garlic


Chopped Parsley

1.  In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, celery and garlic, and season with a little salt and pepper.  (Be sparing in your use of salt if your canned tomatoes already contain salt.) Cook until they’re soft and just starting to brown.  Add the carrot and herbs, cook until the carrot is soft and starting to brown.

Homemade Tomato Sauce

2.  Stir in the tomatoes and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer for one hour.

Homemade Tomato Sauce

3.  Taste the sauce, and add a bit more salt or pepper if you like.  If you prefer a chunkier sauce, go ahead and divide the sauce into small containers to freeze.  I prefer a slightly smoother sauce, so I like to allow the sauce to cool in the refrigerator before pureeing in a blender.  Do this in batches so as not to overfill the blender.  Then place the pureed sauce into small containers for freezing.

Homemade Tomato Sauce

Feel free to use this recipe as a basis for your own personalized sauce – for example you could use different herbs, add a little bell pepper, or maybe add some red pepper flakes for a little extra kick.  🙂


Summer Roll Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing

17 Summer Roll Salad

I greatly enjoy eating all types of Asian cuisine:  stir fry, Thai curries, Vietnamese pho, Korean BBQ, soupy dumplings, sushi, the list goes on…  However, I’ve never really attempted to make any Asian dishes myself.  The delicious and complex flavor combinations often seem to use techniques and ingredients I’m not familiar with.  Part of this Strip District cooking adventure was to challenge myself to experiment more with my cooking.  I didn’t want to take on something too complicated for my first attempt at Asian cuisine, so I tried to keep it simple.  An iconic Strip District treat is Andy’s sushi from Wholey’s, and one of my favorite things to order from Andy are his summer rolls.  Not quite ready to take on fussy rice-paper wrappers, I came up with the idea to turn Andy’s summer roll into a salad.  Below is my take – very similar flavors, but also very easy for even a beginner to execute.  I used frozen shrimp from Wholey’s – I like to buy the big bags of wild caught U.S. shrimp that are right across from Andy’s sushi bar.  I picked up the Asian ingredients and vegetables from Lotus Foods – this is a fantastic place to check out if you haven’t been there before:  all kinds of specialty Asian sauces and spices, as well as a very large selection of fresh produce, fresh tofu, and lots of frozen fish and seafood.  I will definitely be making more trips there, especially since they stay open til 6pm on weeknights, which is much later than most of the other shops in the Strip.

The recipe below serves 2-3.

02 Summer Roll Salad Ingredients

1 cup vermicelli rice noodles
8-10 shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 carrot, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
1 cucumber, cut into thin matchsticks
1 small jicama* (or 1/2 of a larger jicama), peeled and cut into thin matchsticks 1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
A handful of bean sprouts
1 scallion (green onion), thinly sliced
A couple sprigs of fresh basil, chiffonade
A few lime wedges

3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons sriracha
1 teaspoon finely grated ginger

*Jicama is a round, starchy root vegetable that tastes like a cross between a potato and an apple.  It’s popular in Mexican and Asian cuisine.  It can be eaten raw or cooked.  In raw form it is very crispy and doesn’t discolor.  When cooked, it’s similar to a water chestnut.  

12 Summer Roll Salad Veggies

15 Salad Garnish

1.  Whisk together the rice vinegar, soy sauce, peanut butter, fish sauce, honey, ginger and sriracha to make the dressing.  You may want to start with just one teaspoon of sriracha and add more to taste.  Sriracha is a combination of ground chiles and garlic and can be pretty spicy.  If your dressing is a little too thick, add a bit of water.  Set this in the refrigerator while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

04 Spicy Peanut Dressing

08 Spicy Peanut Dressing

10 Spicy Peanut Dressing

2.  Cook the vermicelli noodles in boiling water for 2-3 minutes.  Remove and wash with very cold water for 1 minute.  Drain them, and toss them in some sesame oil to keep them from sticking together.  Cover and set these in the refrigerator.

3.  Warm a bit of olive oil in a pan over medium heat.  Season the shrimp with a bit of salt and pepper, add them to the pan, and cook until pink, about 4-5 minutes.  Remove them from the heat and set aside.

11 Shrimp

4.  Toss the cool noodles with the carrot, cucumber, jicama, celery and bean sprouts.  Add a bit more oil if the noodles are too sticky.

13 Summer Roll Salad

5.  Arrange the noodles and vegetables on a plate.  Place the cooked shrimp on top, drizzle with the spicy peanut dressing.  Garnish with the basil and scallion.  Serve with fresh lime wedges.

18 Summer Roll Salad

20 Summer Roll Salad

Click here to download a printable PDF of this recipe.