Spaghetti and meatballs… Lasagna… Eggplant Parmesan… Manicotti… Chicken Parm… What do these Italian delights have in common? Marinara Sauce!!!
This classic Italian tomato sauce is so much better than jarred sauce. And it only takes about 10 minutes of active hands on time!
Today I got up a little earlier than usual. Result? My son, Noah, is fed and gone for a nap… all my morning chores are done… I polished off some scrambled eggs over arugula and spinach with feta.
Now I’m pondering what to do for the rest of the day. Jason, my husband, is cooking tonight, so dinner is out of my court.
Days like these are perfect to make some made-from-scratch things in big batches! Things like Green Seasoning, some Pesto, Indian Pastes… but I promised Jas some Eggplant Parmesan soon, so how about a giant batch of marinara sauce?
Living in America now, I have embraced some fast and easy aspects of life like store brands. Yes, it makes your life easier, but there is nothing like cooking anything from scratch.
I personally don’t like much processed foods, as I grew up with the freshest of fruits and vegetables or meats from markets. That being said, I make an exception with canned tomatoes with certain recipes.
Now, transitioning to American ways, I still like to adhere to my roots every now and then and go for home made. It is an effort, my friends, but like most of my sauces and pastes, marinara sauce can be made in giant batches and used many times!
Another advantage of using your own sauce is, it’s more customized to your own liking. Not too sweet, or not too bland, or not too tangy like some of the store brands… (of course, over the years you kinda have your favorite brand to go back to every now and then for convenience)…
This sauce freezes very well, so you can have several bottles in your freezer (or pantry if you’re into canning). Experiment a bit, get that taste just the way you like it. Get more kick by increasing the pepper flakes. Use carrots instead of sugar. Try some different Italian herbs like thyme or sage.
Though it seems very basic, this Italian classic has many variations and ways to make it. Some cook it for a longer time, simmering it slowly so it develops some rich and dense flavor. Some cook it quicker to get more of a fresh, tomatoey flavor.
Some like it rich and chunky while others prefer a smoother version. Whichever way you end up cooking is fine, develop your own taste.
The food Nazis who says it’s only my way or no way… relax…
Food becomes more interesting when the same dish has different little variations, be it a technique here or an ingredient there. You can just use some basics like canned tomatoes, onions, garlic, salt, sugar, pepper, oregano and basil.
Or you can have your own little spin, like some finely chopped carrots to impart natural sweetness to balance the tartness of the tomatoes.
If you use San Marzano tomatoes from Italy, you may not need any added sweetener, as they are very low acidity. But don’t sweat it too much, any tomatoes will be good when you cook them.
I like canned whole tomatoes, but if you like smoother sauce you can use crushed tomatoes.
Canned tomatoes are tangier, but you can make it from your garden fresh tomatoes, but first you need to blanch them and peel the skin off. I would rather save my fresh tomatoes for a nice caprese salad or a colorful salsa.
Marinara Sauce Ingredients
- Tomatoes – Whole canned San Marzano.
- Extra virgin olive oil – Good quality.
- Onion – Finely chopped.
- Garlic – Of course!
- Fresh herbs – Basil and oregano. In their absence, substitute 1 tsp dried herbs for every 1 Tbsp fresh.
- Red chili flakes – Optional for a little kick.
- Salt, pepper and sugar – To taste.
Easy Marinara Sauce Recipe
First, at room temperature, put oil, onions, garlic, crushed red peppers and herbs in a large pan.
Gradually bring up heat and cook onions until opaque.
Add the hand-crushed tomatoes…
Cover your sauce, pour a glass of wine and relax for half an hour. Now is a great time to follow GypsyPlate on Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook!… Simmer on low heat for about 45 minutes. Adjust salt and sugar to taste. Add remaining fresh herbs.
Recipe Notes and Tips
- Tomato Quality: For the best flavor, use high-quality canned whole peeled tomatoes. San Marzano tomatoes, if available, are particularly good for marinara sauce due to their sweet flavor and low acidity.
- Crushing Tomatoes: You can crush the tomatoes by hand for a chunkier sauce, or use a blender or immersion blender if you prefer a smoother texture.
- Fresh Ingredients: Always opt for fresh garlic, onions, and herbs if possible, as they impart the best flavor. However, dried herbs can be substituted in a pinch.
- Sautéing: Take your time sautéing the onions and garlic on low heat without letting them brown. This step is key to developing the flavor of the sauce.
- Simmering Time: Allow your sauce to simmer for at least 45 minutes to an hour to let the flavors meld together. A slow, long cook is key to a rich and deep flavor.
- Sugar and Acidity: If the sauce is too acidic, a small amount of sugar can help balance it out. But remember, a little goes a long way!
- Seasoning: Season your sauce with salt and pepper incrementally, tasting as you go to make sure you don’t overdo it.
How to Use Marinara Sauce
Marinara is one of the most versatile sauces out there. You can enjoy it on it’s own over pasta, or use it as a pizza sauce.
Here of some other great dishes you can make once you have your marinara mastered:
- Eggplant Parmesan
- Steak Pizzaiola
- Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
- Cheesy Tortellini Bake
- Baked Italian Meatballs
Leftovers and Storage
Leftover marinara can be refrigerated for about a week in an airtight container.
If you made a big batch, it can be frozen in an airtight container for up to three months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before using.
Master your Italian nights with our easy Marinara Sauce recipe. It’s going to be a game changer. With just minimal efforts, you’re going to feel like a five star chef!
Make sure to save or pin this recipe so you always know where to find it. And don’t forget to subscribe to GypsyPlate, we’re always cooking up new recipes for you!
Homemade Marinara, on our GypsyPlate… Enjoy!
- 2 28 oz cans of whole tomatoes
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3/4 cup finely chopped onions
- 4 finely chopped garlic cloves
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 2 Tbsp fresh basil
- 2 Tbsp fresh oregano
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- Salt, to taste
- Sugar, to taste
- In large, heavy bottomed pan, add olive oil, onion, garlic and half of the herbs. Slowly bring up heat and cook until softened.
- While other ingredients are heating up, pour tomatoes into a large bowl and crush them by hand into large chunks.
- Add tomatoes, black pepper and red pepper to pan, simmer for 45 minutes, partially covered.
- Remove from heat, taste. Does it need a little salt or sugar? Add to your liking. Mix in fresh herbs. Done!
What to do now? How about served over your favorite pasta. Or maybe you are feeling fancy. Use this in a nice lasagne, eggplant parmesan or chicken parmesan. So many possibilities!
Use San Marzano tomatoes, they are very tasty and less acidic.
This was a big batch, so save some for a later day! Refrigerate for up to 4 days, or stick it in the freezer for the next time you get that Italian craving!
Nutrition InformationYield 12 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 82Total Fat 6gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 5gCholesterol 0mgSodium 56mgCarbohydrates 7gFiber 2gSugar 4gProtein 1g
Nutrition information calculated by Nutritionix.
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