Marinara Sauce – perfection from the pantry

I promised a marinara sauce recipe.  This one is so simple, so delicious and so inexpensive to make, you’ll be wondering why you have been buying the jarred stuff.  In the time the water for your pasta comes to a boil, and the pasta is cooked, you can have this simple recipe made and ready.

Versatile, oh my gosh!  Pizza, pasta, eggplant or chicken parmesan, dipping sauce for bread.  I even used a bit of it to poach a piece of fish the other day.  You can double it, triple, quadruple it (you get the idea).  When fresh herbs are outside my back door, I pluck them and minced them for the ultimate in fresh taste.  This time of year, I resort to a spoonful of pesto to quickly season the sauce in a convenient way.  You really must make this sauce.

Marinara Sauce                                                                                                             (Basic Pasta Sauce)

  • 2-3 Tbls olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, more if you like it spicy
  • generous amount freshly grated black pepper
  • 2-4 fresh garlic cloves, smashed and minced
  • 1 – 28oz can whole tomatoes packed in juice
  • fresh herbs, pinch sugar, salt as needed for seasoning

Begin by heating the olive oil, red and black pepper and garlic over medium heat until hot, but don’t let the garlic brown.  Add the tomatoes and begin to smash them up with either a potato masher or wooden spoon.  Bring the sauce to a high simmer.  The idea here is to allow the sauce to evaporate and condense to a thickness where you can draw the spoon across the bottom of the pan and the sauce stays separated.  (I call this the parting of the Red Sea.)  This simmering process will take about 20 minutes in a wide pan, much longer in a smaller sauce pan.  Many times, I’ll use my high sided saute pan to allow the quickest evaporation of the sauce.

Once the sauce is thickened, you can taste it for seasoning.  Add herbs to your liking; I prefer a mixture of fresh basil, Italian parsley and a bit of tarragon.  You might prefer to use oregano or maybe just basil.  I can’t tell you how much herbage you’ll need, just  begin with a few tablespoons of mixed fresh herbs and taste until you’re satisfied.  If using dried herbs, use only 1/3 as much as fresh.

You’ll most likely need a pinch of sugar and some salt.  What you’re tasting for is balance.  Your sauce shouldn’t taste sweet, salty, acidic or like basil, but a blend of all the spices and herbs in harmony. 



3 responses to “Marinara Sauce – perfection from the pantry

  1. Mary,

    I have a question about your cheese Ciabatta bread recipe. H0w much of the finished Biga do you use to make one loaf of the cheese bread when baking in the cast iron dutch oven?

    • Hi Marty, I got two loaves of the cheese bread out of 1 completed ciabatta dough recipe. While the ciabatta recipe would make 4 normal sized ciabatta loaves, I just halved the final dough and made two large loaves for the cheese bread.

  2. Thank you do much for sharing this recipe!!! Since I use pasta sauce at least once a week, this is an excellent replacement for the “sauce in the jar” I have been using.

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