Student Suppers: The Perfect Tomato Pasta Sauce

For this recipe, I have to thank the world of food blogging. I read a lot about food, and I think a lot about the food I am eating when I’m out trying a new restaurant  or even enjoying a good hearty meal at my or my best friends local pub, both of which I do rather a lot. However, it was only after reading recipes that involved a tomato sauce on several food blogs (I think Joy The Baker, Smitten Kitchen and 101 Cookbooks have to be thanked for knocking this knowledge into me) I realised what I had to do to make my quick tomato pasta sauce made from a tin of chopped tomatoes when I was in a rush, or when it was not Summertime at Pilgrims Nook and there was no homegrown tomato glut for me to cook from, to make it taste like I was dining out in an Italian restaurant  and the quick step was so easy I was so angry with myself for not thinking of it before.


Butter. The way to enhance your tomato flavour and make it even more richer than before, is to add butter. I’ve known for years to take the tart edge off of tomatoes you have to add a pinch of sugar, but why had this buttery knowledge  which I’m pretty sure I’ve read in recipes countless times, not sunk in before now. I was standing in front of the fridge, looking for the fresh basil and I spied half a lump of the silver wrapped Kerrygold Unsalted Butter I buy imported in Trader Joes (I won’t go near American butter with a fifty foot barge pole. I’m a butter snob. So sue me. Or just blame my mother, whose fridge full of French Unsalted Butter is what I think is to blame for my issues.), and something I’d read on a blog earlier in the day clicked in my mind, and I decided to give it a go. This quick and easy recipe serves two over cooked pasta, spagetti or linguini. It is also a great base to spruce up with a little bit of whatever you fancy; I’d quite like to try it with some torn parma ham and fresh mozzarella, and in the picture I’ve tossed over some lightly toasted pine nuts as well as some extra basil, which went really well. Because I have things like that laying around my kitchen!

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The Perfect Tomato Pasta Sauce

  • Author: Rachel Phipps
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 2
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: One Pot
  • Cuisine: Italian


A really simple way to make a delicious pasta sauce from tinned tomatoes!


  • 1 Can Tinned Chopped Tomatoes (The best quality you can afford)
  • 1 Knob Unsalted Butter
  • 1 Handful Fresh Basil, Chopped
  • 1/2 tsp Soft Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Dried Oregano (or 1 tsp Fresh)
  • Freshly Ground Salt & Pepper


  1. Melt the butter in the bottom of a small saucepan over a medium heat and add the tomatoes. So you don’t leave behind any of the tomatoey goodness, add a splash of water to the can, swill around and add to the saucepan.
  2. Stir until the melted butter is all combined and add the sugar, oregano, and the salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Bring to the boil and reduce the heat until the sauce is simmering. Add the basil. Continue to simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes until the sauce has thickened.
  4. Serve over hot pasta, spaghetti or linguini. If you intend to mix the pasta into the sauce before serving, keep back about 2 tablespoons of the pasta cooking water when you are straining it, and add to the sauce. The starch in the water will help thicken and improve the sauce, but if you prefer just to serve your sauce over the top of your pasta, this step is not essential. 


On another note, I’ve been having some questions about where I take my photos and work on my blog now I’m living in Los Angeles. During the (few) colder months and when it was unbearably hot here in September I retreated to work at the dining room table inside the apartment I share with my 3 roommates, but during suitable weather (basically anything that resembles a British Summer, even if it is in Winter) I like to sit outside on our little balcony overlooking the planted courtyard to eat, do my uni work and work on my blog. Regardless of the weather I shoot all of the product photos for The Glossy Guide out here (even the ones on a white background I use a piece of white backed board) and all my recipe posts out here – I always prefer to shoot things in natural light, and while at my parents house back in England I’ve learnt the right time of day to shoot things in my favourite windowsill, I’ve got to know the best times of day to shoot different types of my blog out here. Anyway, I thought I’d share a little glimpse into my current workspace with you all!

What are your really simple cooking tips that you could not believe you did not know before when you first discovered them?