Tomato Sauce, the UC Davis Way!

Chef displays a Roma tomato during cooking demonstration
UC Davis chef Bob Walden presents a cooking demonstration July 15 at the California State Fair and Food Festival — and will repeat the demo this Sunday (July 31). (Alex Fisher-Wagner/UC Davis)

Dining Services’ Bob Walden, executive chef, and Kue Her, senior executive chef, are showing the state how to make tomato sauce the UC Davis way — only in much smaller quantities!


Amina Harris of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center will present a honey class and tasting, 4 p.m. Friday (July 29), Taste of California Classroom, Building B. $10 in addition to fair admission.

For a cooking demonstration at the California State Fair and Food Festival on opening day, July 15 — and for a repeat demo on the fair’s last day, this Sunday (July 31) — the chefs downsized the recipe for Dining Services’ UC Davis Roasted Tomato Sauce to make a half gallon, compared to two batches of around 1,000 gallons the campus kitchen crew makes annually with tomatoes from UC Davis’ Russell Ranch Sustainable Agriculture Facility and basil from the Student Farm. The sauce is frozen for use throughout the year.

See earlier story about how Dining Services will make use of some 29,000 pounds of tomatoes from Russell Ranch this year.

This Sunday’s cooking demonstration will begin at 11 a.m. in the Cooking Theatre, Building B. Free with fair admission.

Here are some scenes from the July 15 demonstration, followed by the recipe (which you can download):

Chef does prep work
Chef Kue: Prep work.
Chef chops ingredients
Chef Bob: Chopping ...
Chef pours ingredients from bowl into pot
... pouring ...
Chef uses electric mixer in pot
... and mixing.
Man distributes samples
Kraig Brady, director of Dining Services, hands out samples of the sauce on baguette slices.

Photos by Alex Fisher-Wagner/UC Davis



  • Extra virgin olive oil 5¼ fluid ounces
  • Canola oil 5¼ fluid ounces
  • Peeled garlic cloves ¼ pound
  • Peeled, coarse, ground tomato ¾ cup (canned)
  • Heavy puree ground tomato 1¼ cup (canned)
  • Sugar 1 teaspoon
  • Salt 1 teaspoon
  • Roma tomatoes 3½ pounds
  • Basil ½ ounce (stem on)


Puree garlic, basil leaves and a small portion of oil to finely chop/lightly puree. Wash Roma tomatoes, place on sheet pan, roast at 425 degrees up to 50 minutes. You want to lightly color the tomatoes, skins should start to peel off, juices in pans should not brown or dry up. Tomato liquid is worth its weight in gold. Cool tomatoes. Puree cooked tomatoes.

To make sauce:

  1. Place oils in a medium sauce pan with pureed garlic and chopped basil. Turn heat on medium high. Stirring occasionally, slowly heat oil to infuse garlic and basil into oil; can take 10-20 minutes. Garlic should be lightly browned, and lightly frying in oil; do not overcook. Garlic can become bitter. Remove from heat, stir for a couple of minutes.
  2. CAREFULLY, DO NOT DUMP, add cooked pureed tomatoes and both canned tomatoes to hot oil, garlic and basil. Stir, return to medium heat and add salt and sugar.
  3. Stirring occasionally, slowly bring sauce up to a simmer to infuse flavors. Adjust salt and sugar as needed. Enjoy!

Makes a half gallon.

Nutrition facts: Per serving of 1/2 cup, 165 kcal, 1g protein, 15g fat, 2g saturated fat, 8g carbohydrates, 1g fiber, 4g sugar, 45 mg sodium (all nutrient information derived from USDA Food Data Central, 2022)

Ingredients by weight: Fresh Roma tomatoes, tomato puree, coarse ground tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, canola oil, garlic, fresh basil, salt, sugar. Allergens: None.

Download the Dining Services recipe card.


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