quick tomato sauce for pasta

the sauce

So I am having problems naming this dish/recipe. It’s a recipe for a quick, simple tomato sauce which can be used for a baked (or unbaked) pasta. It’s super flexible – you can choose to add meat or not, and you can add whatever veggies you choose or have available. This is a good dish for people just learning how to cook and/or are on a budget and/or are short of time. (Okay, that was a lot of “and/or”, but you get the drift.)

Feel free to modify this recipe to tailor it to your taste buds and requirements. The last time I made this was probably when I was in graduate school, so it has been a while. Both the hubs and E enjoyed it, I wasn’t so enthused as they were, but it was a quick meal that our family ate for a few days so I can’t complain. I didn’t use ground meat but added in some leftover meatballs I had in the freezer instead.

baked pasta

Quick Tomato Sauce (for pasta)


  • 24oz (1 jar) tomato sauce (you can choose any tomato based variety you like)
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced (you can also just use frozen carrots)
  • About 1 cup frozen vegetables like corn/peas/carrots etc. (optional)
  • 1 lb ground beef/pork/chicken/turkey (optional)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1lb pasta, cooked according to directions. If you are going to bake the pasta, reduce the cooking time by half.
  • About 2 cups grated melting cheese (e.g. mozzarella), for topping if baking pasta


  1. Heat large frying pan/pot and add in ground meat, if using. Cook till meat is browned and then add in the diced onions, bay leaf and red pepper flakes. Cook for about 3 minutes more on medium to medium-low heat. If you aren’t using any meat, add in about 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil and fry the diced onions, bay leaf and red pepper flakes for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add in the garlic and fry for another minute.
  3. Add in the carrot, fry for another 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add in the red bell pepper and zucchini. Cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add in the tomato sauce. Bring to boil and then simmer for about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add in frozen vegetables, if using.
  7. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. You can serve the sauce over pasta as is. If baking the pasta, mix the cooked pasta with the sauce. Pour it into a 8x11inch casserole dish, sprinkle cheese on top and bake for about 25 minutes in a preheated (350°F) oven.
  9. Remove from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes before serving.

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