Frank Sinatra Inspired Fresh Tomato Sauce

April 16, 2011

This Frank Sinatra inspired fresh tomato sauce is made with whole peeled tomatoes, Italian herbs and seasonings, onion, and garlic infused olive oil!

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It all started with a conversation about mobsters with a friend, which somehow turned into inspiration for a Frank Sinatra inspired tomato sauce.  I did some research on this famous Hoboken, New Jersey native and I found out that he was quite the foodie!  He was published in multiple cookbooks – including The Sinatra Celebrity Cookbook – and even sold his mother’s jarred tomato sauce in the 80’s. 

He liked spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce and lots of garlic.  However, he didn’t eat much garlic because it upset his stomach.  Instead, he preferred that his food was infused with the flavor of garlic.  This was accomplished by sautéing the garlic first in olive oil and then removing it from the pan.  

Frank Sinatra Inspired Fresh Tomato Sauce

I usually make my homemade tomato sauces with crushed tomatoes.  But I decided to make this recipe with whole peeled tomatoes to stay true to Sinatra’s sauce recipe.  And just like Sinatra preferred, I cooked the garlic in olive oil first.  Then, I removed it before adding the onions and oil into the sauce.

How to Make Fresh Tomato Sauce

The first thing I did was cook the garlic in the olive oil (you can do this in the same pot that you’ll use for the sauce).  It only takes a couple minutes for the garlic to cook.  Once the garlic gets fragrant and just starts to brown, remove it from the heat and discard the garlic (or you can mash it up and use it to make garlic bread!).

Then, put the oil back on the stove and add the sliced onion.  Just like the garlic, it only takes a few minutes to cook.  Once it’s fragrant and translucent, take the oil back off the heat and set aside.

Now, grab your tomatoes!  Drain the cans (save the tomato puree for other sauces or soup bases) and reserve a little liquid from each can. Blend the tomatoes and liquid just for a few seconds.  You want your sauce to be slightly chunky.

Carefully pour the tomatoes into the oil.  Then, add the seasonings and let the sauce cook for at least 20 minutes.  The longer you cook the sauce, the better it will be!

Frank Sinatra Inspired Fresh Tomato Sauce

Frank Sinatra Inspired Fresh Tomato Sauce


  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
  • 1/2 small-medium onion, sliced into thin crescents
  • 2 cans of whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 tsp. fresh oregano, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional: red pepper flakes


  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a saucepan and add the sliced garlic. 
  2. Cook the garlic until it becomes fragrant and just starts to turn golden brown.
  3. Remove the garlic and oil from the heat. Scoop out the garlic and discard.
  4. Place the oil back onto the stovetop and add the onion over medium heat. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until fragrant and translucent. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Drain the tomatoes, reserving about 1/4 cup of liquid and add to a blender.
  6. Pulse the tomatoes for just a few seconds so you have a slightly chunky textured sauce.
  7. Carefully add the tomatoes to the oil. Heat over medium heat.
  8. Stir and season with the fresh herbs and salt and pepper.  Add a dash of red pepper flakes, if desired. 
  9. Bring the sauce to a rapid simmer. Then, lower the heat.
  10. Cook the sauce, stirring occasionally, for at least 20 minutes.
  11. Serve over pasta.
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Serve this sauce with your favorite pasta, garnish with more fresh basil, and mangia!  It’s also good as a marinara style dipping sauce!

This is a simple homemade tomato sauce infused with classic Italian flavors.  If you’d like to make it more like a traditional Sunday sauce, add ground beef, sausage, or meatballs, and serve with crusty bread and red wine!

Did you make this Frank Sinatra Inspired Fresh Tomato Sauce recipe? Share it on social media using the hashtag #livinglavidaeats. Don’t forget to tag me @lavidaholoka!


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1 Comment

  • Reply How to Make a Night in Italy Date in a Box - Living La Vida Holoka January 15, 2021 at 4:27 PM

    […] your home by creating a delicious pasta dinner.  Listen to Frank Sinatra (or make his famous Fresh Tomato Sauce) while you dine together over a candlelit table.  When dinner is through, nibble on cannoli, […]

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