It’s thought that Marinara sauce originated in Italy, most like the area around Naples. Marinara, meaning “sailor-style,” is a classic Italian tomato-based sauce. Marinara is made with only a few ingredients – tomatoes (preferably San Marzano), onions, garlic, herbs, and extra virgin olive oil.
When you need a quick and easy dinner to impress some unexpected guests, Marinara sauce with your choice of protein and pasta is the way to go.
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You Probably Have The Ingredients For Marinara Sauce In Your Pantry
Marinara sauce is a complete 180 ⁰ from a Bolognese or even my version of Spaghetti Sauce. With a meat-based sauce, you simmer the sauce for hours to develop the rich, hearty flavors.
Marinara cooks quickly to retain the zest and brightness of the tomatoes. The sauce is simple and sophisticated at the same time.
Most homemade Marinara starts with canned tomatoes. San Marzano is the Italian tomato of choice, but any canned tomato will do. I recommend using a product with no salt added. You want to be able to add salt to your taste.
The remaining ingredients are garlic, basil (and other herbs if you choose), onion, and extra virgin olive oil.
If you have fresh tomatoes, you can use them. But blanch them first to remove the skins. (See a quick tutorial on this below.) You don’t want errant pieces of tomato skin in your Marinara Sauce.
The herbs can be fresh or dried. I have a little herb garden outside my kitchen, so I use fresh herbs in season. I harvest my little crop in winter, dry the herbs, and bottle them up.
Dried herbs have a more concentrated flavor and are a bit spicier. You may find you want to add a more generous helping of fresh herbs later in the cooking cycle to bump up the flavor.
How Spicy Do You Like Your Marinara Sauce?
Garlic will definitely heat up the Marinara. For a 28-ounce can of tomatoes, I use 5 – 6 cloves. You can use garlic powder (not garlic salt) instead of fresh. The ratio is about ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder for each clove you use.
My husband likes things a bit on the spicy side, so I add in a somewhat non-traditional ingredient of red pepper flakes. I also like to use shallots instead of onions for their milder flavor.
Once my Marinara sauce is done, I give it a quick blend with my immersion blender for a slightly smoother consistency. I’ve had this blender for years. But now you can buy a cordless immersion blender which is even easier to use.
Storing Your Homemade Marinara Sauce
Assuming you have any leftover sauce, you may wonder how to keep it for later use.
My husband thinks I’m a little obsessive about keeping jars. You know, the ones that contain the pickles or olives you buy at the store.
I’m not particularly eager to use plastic containers for many reasons. But these little jars are the best for keeping things fresh and totally reusable.
Important Note: I do not recommend you use these types of jars for actual “Canning.” Canning is a heat process that regular jars may not be strong enough for.
You can store the Marinara sauce in a jar in the refrigerator for up to three days. But the fantastic thing is that you can freeze the sauce and have it on hand for up to three months.
When freezing the sauce in a jar, do not fill it to the top leave about an inch. As the sauce or any liquid freezes, it expands in size. Also, leave the top of the jar loose until your sauce is frozen. This way, the expanding sauce won’t break your jar.
So go ahead and make a double recipe. Then when the urge to make a quick chicken parm hits, you’ll have Marinara sauce on hand and ready to go.
How To Skin And Seed Fresh Tomatoes
To skin and seed fresh tomatoes, you need the following:
First, clean the tomatoes and remove any stems or leaves. Next, cut an “X” in the bottom of each tomato just through the skin, not into the flesh.
Once you have the tomatoes ready, drop them into the boiling water when the skin of the tomato begins to separate from the flesh (near the “X” you made). This should only take about a minute.
Remove the tomato and drop it into the ice bath you have ready to stop the cooking. When the tomato is cool enough to handle, remove it from the ice bath and gently remove the skin by pulling away from the “X” on the bottom.
If you want to seed the tomatoes, you can simply cut them open and gently squeeze them to remove most of them.
Here is Marinara sauce you can whip up at home in just about 20 minutes. In the time it takes to cook your pasta, you can have dinner on the table !
- 1 - 28 ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 shallot
- 5 cloves of garlic (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 3 sprigs of Basil (or 1 teaspoon dried basil)
- 5 sprigs of oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried oregano)
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- salt & pepper to taste
- Chop the shallots and garlic.
- In a large pot over medium heat, add olive oil, shallots, and garlic.
- Allow shallots and garlic to sautee until fragrant and soft.
- Add in your tomatoes ( I gently crush each tomato by hand as I add it to the pot) and all the liquid from the can.
- Toss in the herbs, salt, pepper, and red pepper.
- Bring the mixture to a quick boil, then reduce the heat and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes.
- Take the sauce off the heat and remove the sprigs of herbs.
- If you like a less chunky sauce, use an immersion blender to bring the sauce to your desired consistency.
- At this point, the Marinara sauce is ready to serve. Feel free to add fresh basil for more flavor right before eating.
This recipe can be easily doubled or even tripled.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 86Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 93mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 4gSugar: 6gProtein: 2g
Nutritional Information is an estimate and will vary depending on the specific ingredients used