My mum’s tomato sauce OR Mamin sug od pomidora


Today, I’d like to share the recipe for my favourite tomato sauce with you – my mum’s tomato sauce. This sauce is THE tomato sauce for me – I adore it! Over the years I’ve learnt to like and prepare the more minimalist (onion, garlic, tomato, basil) versions, but this is the tomato sauce I grew up with. You will notice that it is very different from Italian versions. The onions are browned (rather than cooked until translucent), together with carrot, and pepper. Garlic is added together with tomatoes (rather than with onions), and parsley and leaf of celery are used instead of basil.

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) is a very important herb in Croatian, especially in Dalmatian cooking. It’s practically ubiquitous! We use it in meat and vegetable sauces, sprinkle it (together with garlic) over grilled fish – everywhere really! I’m submitting this post to Kalyn for the Weekend Herb Blogging event!

I must admit that this post is long overdue. The sauce was made during the summer, as a part of our zimnica, or winter foods, when the tomatoes were at their best. I had some issues with my posting photos plus slow Internet connection so I’m posting it only now. Unfortunately, the tomato season is finished here… If you can find them, plum tomatoes make a really nice thick sauce.

The pot you see below has the capacity of 9 litres! We make 2 or three of those! We always make a huge batch and freeze it for the winter. We use it with pasta, with polenta (it works really well! it’s one of my mum’s favourite dishes), or to make tomato risotto (simply add rice, and cook it in the sauce. I like to top it with yogurt.) Also, this is the sauce we use to make Stuffed Peppers (punjene paprike). Please note that you may need to scale up or down the recipe for the sauce, depending on how many peppers you’re making (details in the stuffed peppers post).



My mum’s tomato sauce OR Mamin sug od pomidora


SOURCE: Mum’s recipe


COOKING TIME: 30 – 40 min

CUISINE: Croatian

SERVES: 4 – 6



Vegetable or olive oil

2 – 3 onions, finely chopped

2 large carrots, grated

2 yellow or red peppers, chopped

1 kg tomatoes, chopped

1/2 bulb of garlic

Fresh Parsley, chopped

Fresh leaf of celery, chopped

Salt, pepper




1. Fry the onions, grated carrots and peppers until light to medium brown (but not burnt). Please don’t skip this step, it’s very important for the flavour of the dish.

2. Add tomatoes, garlic, leaf of celery and parsley.

3. Season to taste and add a little sugar. (I always add a little sugar when I’m cooking with tomatoes. This offsets the sourness of the tomatoes.)

4. Cook until the vegetables are soft, and colour of the sauce turns from bright red to a orange and red. Reduce the sauce to desired thickness.

5. Process the sauce so it becomes smooth. My mother uses a special kitchen gadget for this, but I’m not sure what the word is in English – perhaps tomato press or something like that. (Asked the hubby – he doesn’t know either) The gadget is used to process tomato sauce specifically. It looks like a type of grinder, you pour in the tomato sauce, turn the handle; out comes the smooth sauce, and in stays the tomato peel. That way there is no need to peel the tomatoes before cooking! Perfect!



Serve with pasta, with polenta, or make a risotto by adding some risotto rice to the sauce, and cooking it in the sauce. Don’t forget to stir often! 🙂 I like this risotto with a bit of yogurt on top.


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Leave a comment


  1. Adore my tomato sauces and had intended on making a batch today. Going to try out your version. Will let you know how it goes!


  2. Love the idea of the browned onions and carrots! It has to add a whole new layer of flavor! I’ll have to wait until next year’s tomato crop, though…


  3. WENDY, I look forward to hearing what you think!

    KATIEZ, yes, it does add a whole new layer of flavour, it makes it somehow richer. I think the sauce would go really well with meatballs, for example. Indeed, we use it with stuffed peppers.


  4. What a beautiful red color…and the flavor combination of celery leaf, browned onion sounds good!


  5. Hey,
    I’m very happy to discover your blog! 🙂
    Yes, I use Vegeta all my life, back home in Poland it was one of very few seasonings we were using. Now when I moved to UK I missed it, I tried to replace it with Knorr and other brands similar products but it was not the same. Now I found it finally in Polish shop here in London.
    Very nice blog, I will visit again soon, Margot


  6. This looks reaaaaaal yum and a great alternative to the Italian tomato sauce I’ve made 2000 times already. I could just use a hand blender right? Go straight into the pan with it?

    Looking forward to your terrible date story, young lady…


  7. riceta ti je stvarno dobra…ono sa gratanon karoton nisan zna…samo ca ja jos stavin pinkicu kvasine…lipo…


  8. Very interesting to read how this is different from the Italian version of tomato sauce. I like the sound of the browned onions in the sauce, and I’m a big fan of celery leaf (I love celery!) I can tell I would like this just from the sound of it!

    BTW, I think the gadget you are describing to remove the tomato skins and seeds is what’s called a ‘food mill’ here. I just got one this year and really liked using it for tomato sauce.

    Now, saving this recipe to my cookbook, thanks!


  9. rockyroadoflove

     /  30 October, 2007

    This sounds fabulous! ‘Love your blog!


  10. agent0068

     /  31 October, 2007

    Looks like a tasty sauce and I really like the vibrant photos.


  11. The gadget your mother used was probably a “mouli”. I have one and I use it more often than the blender/ processor. It does a fabulous job for mashing potatoes- super smooth and creamy. X


  12. NABEELA, this is indeed the red of the sauce – in the second photo. the first photo is in shadow a little, but the second one is the nearly radioactive red of the sauce itself! 🙂 Glad you like the combo! Give it a go, and let me know what you think! 🙂

    COFFEE & VANILLA, thanks for visiting!

    MALLIKA, do you mean you should use a hand blender at the end? You can, if you use chopped tomatoes, or peel them first – BUT – don’t start screaming yet – I know you would – I quote 😉 – ‘rather eat your shoe’. 😀 Anyway, yes, blend away, but just bear the peel issue in mind. The blender will not remove the peel; it will just chop it, and if you don’t mind that, that’s that sorted!

    DALMACIJO, fala na komentaru! E vis, ja nisan znala za verziju s kvasinom. zanimljivo!


  13. KALYN, thanks for commenting! Glad you like the recipe! So, the gadget is called food mill? Or mouli as Paul says. Thanks! 🙂

    ROCKYROADOFLOVE, Thanks for visiting! Glad you like my blog!

    AGENT 0068, it is a very tasty sauce! Glad you like the pics!

    PAUL, I never thought of using the gadget for mashing potatoes! Doesn’t it make them to runny?


  14. Is it like a rotating, hand cranked food mill which forces the ingredients through perforated discs of various sizes? If we are talking about the same object, it is excellent for mashed potatoes. Thats how chefs in fancy restaurants do it. The mash comes out super smooth and creamy. No lumps- I love it! X


  15. Finally I found a tomato sauce recipe that’s easy to follow!


  16. PAUL, yeap, it sound similar to what you’re saying. And it sounds like a very very easy way to mash potatoes! Great! Unfortunately, I myself don’t have the little tool in question… If I did have it, I’d definitely try it!

    GAY, glad you like it! However, please bear in mind this is not a traditional Italian-style tomato sauce.


  17. Maja

     /  19 February, 2008

    I picked some roma tomatoes from my garden and the sauce is cooking right now. I skipped the peppers because I don’t like them at all, but I’m sure the sauce will taste great. I really like your blog and keep the Dalmatian recipes coming! P.S I made fritule for the first time in my life the other day after finding a recipe on another website, but they turned out terrible. I didn’t want to show my Dalmatian mother the shameful disaster, so I threw them down the waste disposal 🙂 I’ll try your recipe next time, when I’m brave enough to try making them again. They look wonderful.


  18. dragana

     /  4 September, 2009

    We husband has a high blood pressure and we try to omit canned food , esp. vegetables and tomato sauces that are loaded with salt and MSG. I make my own in a very similar way and use only a bit of salt, it tastes very good.


  19. dean

     /  25 October, 2009

    ona sprava ili gadget ti se zove tomato press na english


  20. Fala, Deane!


  21. Kevin

     /  13 June, 2010

    Hi, just made this tonight with your recipe for stuffed peppers.
    Really nice, although I think the next time I make it it will be even better. (I think I used the wrong kind of tomato, so I had to water the sauce down to get enough volume to cook the peppers, but the original flavour was great)


    • Hi Kevin! I’m really glad you like them!
      I’ve just realised that this amount of tomato sauce serves 4 – 6, while the peppers serve about 14 (if you made it according to the original recipe)… This means that the amount of sauce should be trippled… Sorry about that! I’ll add a note about this in the posts.

      It is true that the tomatoes vary quite a bit. In Dalmatia, we’re lucky to have fantastic tomatoes, really flavourful. Also, if you use plum tomatoes, rather than normal tomatoes, the sauce is thicker.

      So next time, you could try making more sauce, or using different tomatoes. Another thing I would suggest is adding some tomato puree to the tomato sauce if necessary to make the taste more intense.


  22. Moreno

     /  17 September, 2011

    I think that the processing gadget is called a Vegetable Mill.


  23. Robert Smotherman

     /  17 March, 2012

    I LOVE this rtecipe and so dose my Wife and Children thank you so much HVALA!!!


  24. Robert Smotherman

     /  17 March, 2012

    I LOVE this recipe and so dose my Wife and Children thank you so much HVALA!!!


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