Spaghetti and meatballs… Lasagna… Eggplant Parmesan… Manicotti… Chicken Parm… What do these Italian delights have in common? Marinara sauce!!!
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 diced or 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.
Let’s get cooking…
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.
Homemade Marinara, on my GypsyPlate… Enjoy!
Check out these other great sauces and seasonings!
Cuban Mojo Marinade
5 Minute Pesto
Cilantro Mint Chutney
Guasacaca (Venezuelan Guacamole)
The basis for so many Italian delights. This sauce is so easy, versatile and delicious. Make in bulk and save some for later!
- 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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6 thoughts on “Homemade Marinara”
The pictures look lovely! Quick questions: 1) what quantity/measure of herbs should I use? The recipe only indicates that I should use an unspecified amount of basil and oregano. 2) The recipe lists “3/4 finely chopped onions” under ingredients. Does this mean 3/4 of an onion? 3/4 cup of onion? Something else? Thanks in advance for responding as I look forward to trying this recipe!
Yes, that’s 3/4 cup diced onion. And I usually use 2 Tbsp each of fresh parsley and fresh basil (use 2 teaspoons eash if using dried herbs). Thanks for catching that, we have now updated the recipe card!
what a nice thick looking sauce that could be used in so many wonderful dishes! Thanks for the recipe!
This sauce looks amazing and I love a good thick looking sauce. I’m super excited to see this!
Thanks Heidi, enjoy!