Tomato-based sauce

Pot containing tomato sauceThis is a fantastic recipe. It’s a great base for so many other recipes and a really flavoursome way to make your meals interesting. The extra virgin olive oil adds healthy monounsaturated fats and antioxidants.

The process of cooking the tomatoes increases the lycopene content. Lycopene is an antioxidant mainly found in tomatoes, which has been associated with a wide range of health benefits.

The chickpeas with tomato and chilli recipe shows how this base sauce can be used to build a healthy meal.


Nutritional information

There’s good evidence that a Mediterranean-style diet is good for people with fatty liver. The use of a cooked tomato base in meals on a regular basis is one of the key elements to a Mediterranean-style diet. For those with other liver conditions, this sauce can help to add flavour to your meals especially when you can’t add salt. For this recipe there is:

Protein 4 g per serve / 1g per 100g

Sodium 250mg per serve / 77mg per 100g.

This recipe has a low sodium (salt) content and could be used as part of a low salt diet. If you want to reduce the salt a little more, use no added salt tomato paste. This would drop the sodium to 110mg per serve / 34mg per 100g.


The recipe is enough to use as a base for dinner for 2 adults. You can increase the amounts to make a larger batch for more people, or to have some to freeze some.

60 ml extra virgin olive oil

1 brown onion

2 cloves of garlic

2 tablespoons tomato paste

400g tin of tomatoes

Extra herbs and spices like a pinch of chilli flakes for a bit of heat, or some chilli powder (depending on how hot you like it) and a teaspoon each of ground cumin and coriander for the base of a curry or a Tex-Mex style chilli. If you’re making a curry, you could also add half a teaspoon of ground turmeric. For something more Italian, add some fresh herbs like a bay leaf or some chopped herbs like a teaspoon of thyme or oregano or half a teaspoon of rosemary.


  1. Peel the onion, cut in half then cut up into smallish pieces. I cut it into thin slices, but any way will work.
  2. Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan on moderate heat and add the onion. Leave it until it starts to sizzle then stir and add a pinch of salt. This will help draw liquid out of the onion and cook it a bit more quickly.
  3. Cook until the onion is just starting to brown. If the heat is too high the onion can start to burn and go black. This won’t ruin the recipe but will make the onion taste a little bitter. Once the onion is browning add the garlic and any extra herbs and spices you want to use.
  4. Cook for a minutes or so until you smell the garlic cooking. Then add the tomato paste and stir.
  5. Let it cook for a few minutes until the olive oil goes orange and the tomato paste goes dark. Then add the tinned tomatoes. You can blitz these up before adding but I think that makes more washing up. I get the whole tomatoes and crush them in my hand then rinse out the tin with half a cup of water to get all the tomato juice.


The secret is to cook the onions slowly to bring out their sweetness, and fry the tomato paste in the olive oil to caramelise it.

You can use whatever sort of tinned tomatoes you like: cherry tomatoes or big tomatoes, even chopped tomatoes. You can also use tomato passata or other pureed tomato in a bottle, but this may be more expensive than tinned tomatoes. I use tinned whole tomatoes because I like there to be some chunky pieces after I crush them in my hand. You could also use fresh tomatoes but these tend to make the sauce a bit more watery so you might need to cook down more and may end up with a little less at the end.

What it cost

All items were from a supermarket. The whole recipe cost about $5.

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