I grew up with, and for the first 20 years of my life, only cooked "Spaghetti Sauce". Specifically, my mom’s spaghetti sauce recipe. And I love it. But…over the past many years, I’ve come discover what most call Spaghetti Sauce may in fact be Bolognese, Sugo, Ragu, Pomodoro…etc. Today, I’ve got another specific one, the perfect Marinara Sauce Recipe. Marinara is one of the more simple, tomato based, pasta sauces, and at least for the sauces in my repertoire, is the easiest to make. There aren’t many ingredients, and the cooking time can easily be under an hour and a half. However, it’s also a sauce that you can use for a ton of different pasta recipes, and even to as a base for other great pasta sauces. It’s a must know for any serious home cook, and I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do.
Recipe Overview and Keys to Success
To make the best Marinara Sauce just follow these few simple steps:
- Don’t brown the onions or garlic. You definitely want to sauté them until they are softened, but browning will really change their flavors. Not necessarily in a bad way, but certainly in a way that alters the Marinara from a simple “fresh tasting” tomato sauce into something else
- Chunky or not chunky? This isn’t a pasta sauce cooked for 6 hours, where everything breaks down. The components will retain their shape and integrity. I like to start the sauce with whole or diced tomatoes, knowing the sauce will be chunky at the end. If you want a smoother sauce you can blend it, or start off with crushed tomato.
- Cook the sauce for 1 – 2 hours, but much after that, you starting to enter into a sauce other than marinara. Marinara sauces are light, high acid, fresh tasting sauces, and you don’t really want to go too long on them.
RECIPE FOR MARINARA SAUCE
Ingredients (for 2)
- 1 large yellow onion diced
- 5 garlic cloves minced
- 1 cup fresh basil
- 32 ounces canned diced tomato
- Sugar (optional)
- Olive oil
Making the Marinara Sauce
- Bring a high sided sauté pan (or pot) to temperature over medium heat and coat with olive oil
- Add the onions and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat
- Continue to cook until the onions are translucent
- Add the tomatoes, season with more salt and pepper and stir to combine
- Add one cup of water, cover and turn the heat down to a simmer
- After 30 minutes add the basil (stems and all) and stir it in
- Cover again and simmer for an hour
- Taste the sauce. Sometimes you may find the acid from the tomatoes has made the sauce too bitter. To offset that, add some sugar a tablespoon at a time, tasting after every addition - you shouldn’t need more than a few tablespoons
- Remove the basil leads, and your marinara sauce is done
This is an incredible pasta sauce just on its own, but you can also use it as base for seafood tomato sauces (mussels marinara is killer good), or other pasta sauces like Arrabiata.
Wine recommendation: Chianti and tomato sauces are a wine and food pairing made in heaven. There are a ton of different Chiantis available at all kinds of price ranges and I think they’ll go perfectly with this marinara sauce.