What else speaks Italian than a mildly tangy tomato sauce. This Marinara Sauce recipe is the perfect companion to my Arancini Recipe or to a plate of pasta or gnocchi. This sauce is so easy and simple to make and tastes great.
In fact, this Marinara Sauce is so incredibly easy to make that after you make it once, you won't need to refer to this recipe ever again! (Although I really hope that you do return. LOL!)
Making the Perfect Marinara Sauce (Tomato Sauce)
It Starts With Vine Ripened Tomatoes
The best Marinara Sauce is made from fresh vine ripened tomatoes. And, if you grow your own that's even better. My mom is the epiphany of Italian tradition in that she grows her own Tomatoes and when sauce season comes around, she's out there harvesting, ripening and preserving her home grown tomatoes as a puree.
She shares her jars of pureed tomatoes with me and often I use the pureed tomatoes to make my tomato sauce. However, when I run out, I resort to store bought tomato puree.
If you decide you want to try to grow your own tomatoes, keep in mind that there are specific tomatoes that are used for making tomato sauce. In my family, that was the san marzano tomato. The king of tomato for sauce. What makes these tomatoes so special is that they are meaty and have very little pulp. And usually, you are removing the pulp otherwise the sauce would be too runny. You want a tomato puree that is thick and meaty for the perfect tomato sauce.
If you decide to buy crushed tomatoes, it may take you a while to find the brand of tomato puree that you like. Be patient, you will find it. One of my favorite store bought tomato puree brands is the Aurora Brand, like this one here. For clarify tomato puree = crushed tomatoes.
What to do with Acidic or Bitter Sauce
I find that sometimes the tomatoes aren't as sweet as they should be, especially if you are buying fresh tomatoes in store. They are usually picked well ahead of being perfectly ripened and sit in the grocery store to ripen. Not like tomatoes that ripen on the vine.
When I get a batch of tomatoes or crushed tomatoes that aren't as ripe as I'd like them to be, the sauce will be a little bitter or acidic. When this happens I will add about half a teaspoon of sugar, give or take. The sugar takes away the tartness of the sauce when the tomatoes aren't as sweet as they should be.
What Goes in a Good Marinara Sauce?
When I hear of people putting everything but the kitchen sink in a tomato sauce, I shake my head. Your not making minestrone soup. You are making Marinara Sauce. The simplest sauce out there. Don't overpower the sauce with ingredients you don't need. A good Tomato sauce has simple ingredients like a good olive oil, onion, garlic, and herbs.
Start with the sauteing the onion and garlic. Don't brown them, just cook them until they are light in color and are fragrant. Then add the pureed tomato, salt and herbs. If you find that the tomato puree is very thick, simply add some water.
If the tomato puree is too thin, add about 2 tablespoons of tomato paste. Let the tomato sauce cook out. As it cooks down it will thicken and the taste will intensify.
Frying Pan vs. Saucepan
Really, you could use either a frying pan or a saucepan to make your tomato sauce. Me, personally, I love using a frying pan to cook my sauce. I find that the sauce cooks way quicker in a frying pan and tastes a little bit better. Cook your tomato sauce covered for about 30 minutes. If you want to thicken it as it cooks, cook it slightly uncovered.
Pasta and the Finish
You've gone through all this trouble to make your home made tomato sauce. Don't ruin it by pouring it over soggy pasta. Always cook your past as directed by the product instructions and remove the pasta when it's al dente. Al dente means cooked but firm to the bite.
And, of course, top your pasta off with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Oh and by the way don't buy cheese that comes in a jar in the grocery isle. All good cheese can be found in the deli-cheese section not on a shelf in an isle.
Store leftovers refrigerated in an airtight container for a maximum of 7 days. You can also freeze for later. When you need this sauce, thaw out in the fridge for 24 hours and then pour into a saucepan to warm it up.
Drop a comment below if you made this Marinara Sauce. I’d love to see your pictures as well as know what you put in your sauce. So don’t forget to post them on your Instagram account. Tag me at #girl_with_a_spatula and follow me @girl_with_a_spatula
Looking for other lip smacking recipes? Click here to search the site for some great inspiration.
Looking to grow your own vegetables? Visit the Greenery Guide to read the Ultimate Guide: Vegetables to Grow at Home to Save Money.
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- ½ cup diced white onion
- 1 tbsp dried basil (or 3 fresh basil leaves)
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 3 to 4 cups tomato puree
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar (for Whole30 1 tsp date paste or chopped date) - optional
- ½ tsp ground pepper
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 tbsp tomato paste (optional)
- Heat up oil. Sauté garlic and onions until translucent and fragrent.
- Add tomato puree. Add water if too thick. If the tomato puree is to thin, add tomato paste.
- Taste sauce if it is bitter add 1 tsp of sugar or for Whole30 add 1 chopped date or date paste.
- Add herbs and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and let simmer for 20 minutes.
- If sauce is tarte or acidic, add ½ teaspoon (more or less) of sugar to remove acidic taste. Let simmer for another 10 to 20 minutes. Taste to adjust seasoning as needed.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 260Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1309mgCarbohydrates: 47gFiber: 11gSugar: 25gProtein: 9g
Nutrition data is calculated automatically by Nutritionix and isn't always accurate. I am not a certified nutritionist and make no claims to the contrary. Each individual’s dietary needs and restrictions are unique to the individual. You are ultimately responsible for all decisions pertaining to your health.