Recipe – Marinara Sauce

Many years ago I remember eating a fresh tomato sauce that tasted just what I thought Marinara should taste like; fresh, light, garlicky, with a hint of basil, all complimenting the sweet tomatoes.  It was from a local Italian restaurant, and ever since, my goal has been to reproduce it at home. I think this recipe does it.

You’ve heard this, the secret to delicious food is using the best ingredients, especially when there’s just a couple.  It’s worth sourcing the best ingredients, particularly with a sauce, which is the base of many other dishes like Spaghetti and Meatballs, or Sausage and Broccoli over Ziti – pictures below.  I love to use this sauce on spaghetti squash.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Ziti with Sausage and Broccoli

Ziti with Sausage and Broccoli

If tomatoes are in season, (summer months), use fresh plum, preferably San Marzanos. Otherwise buy San Marzanos in a can.

Tips – Crush the garlic with a press and chop the onion fine.  They will be more flavorful.  Saute the onions for a full 10 minutes on low heat to release their full flavor, then add the garlic. Don’t let the onion and garlic brown.

What you’ll need

San Marzano tomatoes, 6-8 fresh, or one 16 oz can

onion, 1medium, chopped fine, I use yellow

garlic, 4 cloves, crushed

basil, small handful, chopped coarsely

olive oil, extra virgin, cold pressed, couple of tablespoons

sea salt & pepper to taste

To prepare

Using Canned Tomatoes

1. Preheat a large skillet or frying pan, stainless steel or cast iron, on low heat.  Don’t use aluminum because it can react with the tomatoes throwing off the taste.  I use a Le Creuset braiser.

2. Chop the onion fine, drizzle olive oil into the pan, and add the onion. Stir frequently  and cook for 10 minutes.

3. Crush and add the garlic and cook 3 minutes more, making sure not to brown the onions or garlic – keep the heat low.

4. Open the can of tomatoes and pour them in to a food processor or food mill.  Pulse them to a coarse consistency, not runny, but not too chunky, unless you like that.

5. Add the tomatoes and their juice to the pan, turn to medium heat and cook, stirring often for 10 minutes.

6. Coarsely chop the basil and add it to the pan.  Season with salt and pepper and toss in your favorite pasta. Bon Appetit!

Using Fresh Tomatoes

Make an X opposite the stem end of the tomatoes. This will make peeling the skin easier.  Boil the tomatoes for 10 minutes in salted water, then remove to an ice water bath.  Peel the tomatoes – the skin will peel right off. Process them until desired consistency in a food processor or run through a food mill..  I like mine coarse, not all liquid, but not too chunky either.

No follow steps 1 – 6 above.

How to serve pasta with sauce

Boil the pasta in salted water, about 2-3 tablespoons of salt. Cook until al dente, slightly toothy, not mushy.  Lift the pasta out of the water with tongs, slotted spoon, or small strainer, and place directly into the sauce pan.  Mix and cook, tossing frequently, for another 1-2 minutes.

To plate – transfer to a dish, I like a using a shallow pasta/soup bowl, grate fresh cheese over, garnish with chopped parsley, drizzle with olive oil and serve. Bon Appetit!