Few images of childhood are as iconic as seeing a toddler’s face smeared with spaghetti sauce. For some time, I thought DS1 was allergic to tomatoes because he seemed to react to them. Then we tried making pasta sauce with corn-free tomato paste (Contadina is generally considered safe for those allergic to corn), and he didn’t react. It turns out that tomatoes (among other fruits and vegetables including bananas) are shipped unripe, and then gassed with ethylene to ripen them. Ethylene gas, naturally, is derived from corn, and so my son was reacting to the corn in the fresh tomatoes I was buying.

Yeah. He had a CORN reaction from eating TOMATOES. Needless to say, I only buy locally-grown, un-gassed tomatoes now. But I digress.

Once I realized that he could safely eat tomato products, we started trying to figure out how to make our own pasta sauce from tomato paste. The hubby has a gift for tweaking seasonings, so this has really been his mission. Here is the result of all his hard work:

Corn-Free Pasta SauceCorn-Free Pasta Sauce (aka Red Sauce)

3 (6 oz.) cans of tomato paste
18 oz. water (see notes below)
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. oregano
½ tsp. thyme
1 tsp. parsley
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. basil
Pepper to taste
1 cup frozen spinach packed (optional)

Empty tomato paste into a medium sized sauce pan.  Fill each can with water and pour into sauce pan, rinsing as much paste into the pan as possible. (*Becki’s note: This means one can of water for each can of paste. Not 3 cans of water for each can of paste. That makes tomato soup, not pasta sauce. Ask me how I know…)

Turn the heat on to low as you add all the remaining ingredients except spinach.  Heat through until sauce starts bubbling, add spinach, and heat through until spinach is cooked.

If you’re dealing with picky eaters, go ahead and blend the mix until smooth.  If not, just enjoy the spinach in the sauce.  Adjust seasonings as needed.

This freezes really well, so go ahead and double (or triple!) the recipe.

It was such a heartwarming moment the first time I saw my one-year-old with a face covered in pasta sauce. I felt like a good mom, doing such awesome things for my little boy. Yup, heartwarming. Right up until I had to start cleaning the red stains off the white kitchen walls.