Tomato Salsa is the essential base for so many great Mediterranean Diet recipes. From pizza to pasta or casseroles and even toast. And, if you get it right, this classic will make everything taste great.

Tomato salsa

It should taste rich - possibly dense - and tangy! Yes, tangy is the thing - so here's how to make it taste super good:

make it Tangy

Here's how you swap

For tomatoes - use ripe, deep red,  tomatoes - low on water and high of flavour
For the onions, fry softly and gently in rich Serriana olive oil
For the tanginess - use a splash of balsamic or apple vinegar

Get these three things right and you can't go wrong with your tomato salsa.

Italian or plum tomatoes

These Italian (sometimes called Roma) or Plum tomatoes are typically used for cooking a great tomato salsa. You can also use beefsteak tomatoes. But in all cases, they should be ripe (possibly almost too ripe to eat raw).

How to cook tomato salsa


2 white onions
50 - 80g of Serriana olive oil
A splash of water
600 - 800g of tomatoes
2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
A large splash of balsamic vinegar or Vinagre De Jerez 
(optional) a small to medium spoonful of mustard
100g of dark red wine
The juice of a lemon
Ground black pepper
Strong Mediterranean herbs (sage or rosemary) and / or dried herbs such as basil or oregano
(optional) Soft Mediterranean herbs - fresh basil leaves


Step 1. Heat Serriana Olive Oil in a large heavy casserole dish. Find one that has a lid that fits (more or less). You will use the lid to control how much moisture stays in the pan.

Step 2. Chop the onions and add to the hot oil - now turn down the heat - and add a lid. This will mean that the onions will start to caramelise. So it is important that they are cooked slowly in a 'steamy' pan. That's why the little bit of water and lid are important.

Step 3. Now prepare and chop the tomatoes. Add to the onions after about 10 minutes.

Here's where the choice comes in! After a few minutes, you'll see how much water your tomatoes add. Now, you can lift the lid and allow some water to boil off to make the salsa thicker. Or, you can keep the lid on to keep it moist. 

Either way, cook slowly and keep plenty of moisture in the pan to ensure that the onions caramelise and bring their beautiful sweetness to your sauce.


Step 4. Add extras  - as the tomatoes boil down, now is the time to add your extras - a splash of balsamic vinegar or Vinagre de Jerez, a spoonful of mustard and your nutritional yeast.

Step 5. Add robust herbs. If you are using robust fresh herbs - rosemary and / or sage - add them now. Also, if you have dried basil or oregano, add these too. If you are using fresh basil or oregano or parsley - wait until later.

Step 6. Add your red wine. Add as much red wine as the salsa needs.  If it is dry add more. If it is light in colour, add more.

Step 7. Add the lemon and black pepper. Add these final ingredients after about 25 to 30 minutes and cook for a few minutes more.

Step 8. Add fresh herbs. Once you reach the end of the cooking, and the salsa is just the right thickness, throw in your fresh herbs and turn the heat off.

Step 9. To blend or not to blend? Mostly, I don't blend (for pizza and pastas). But, if you want a smooth sauce, then give it a quick wizz once it has cooled a little.

tomato Salsa for pizza pasta and casseroles

Here's how a great salsa is going to look! If, of course, you prefer you salsa smooth, then put it into a blender. However, for most uses (pizza or pasta) I find it works better when it has a little more crunch and texture.

tomato salsa - hot

Some like it hot! Maybe you are going to create chilli sauce? Or you just like a little bit of bite? Well, there are two ways to do this. Firstly, add chillies when you add your robust herbs (step 5). Or, add some fresh coriander at the end (step 8). If you use a tabasco sauce, be careful, but use it earlier rather than later. Unless you want it to be really hot! Also, at this stage, you might as well make a proper Harrisa Sauce

tomato salsa - serve & preserve

So long as you added some lemon - you did add the lemon didn't you? You can put your (cooled) tomato salsa in a jar and keep it for a week or so in the fridge. But you probably want to use right away, eh?

In which case, use it as a pizza base! Just make sure that you boil the salsa down to a thick paste like sauce. Just so it sticks on the pizza base. If, on the other hand, you want to use your tomato salsa for a pasta, then keep it a bit more runny.

Cheese Free Pizza

Homemade pizza with a lovely rich tomato salsa base and then topped with lots of great things!

Did you know that some there are over 10,000 different varieties of tomato? Yep, that's right. And you can check them out here... You can use any for this recipe, but I tend to prefer the beefsteak or plum (often called Roma or Italian) tomatoes

If you enjoyed this tomato salsa recipe - why not check out more olive oil recipes here?

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