Basic Marinara

I’ve had a request for my favorite spaghetti sauce recipe so here is the basic red sauce that I use. I don’t have pictures of my own so I’m borrowing some from the sources linked and you’ll just have to use your imagination for the steps (perhaps I’ll add some next time I make it). Also, I’m sorry if this is hard to read I never measure this stuff so…

cut the ends and peel outer layers off of one medium/large onion quarter it and put it into food processor (if you don’t have one you can just finely chop everything)

add 4-6 cloves of peeled garlic

one large or two small washed carrots with end cut off (don’t bother peeling it, it’s edible!)

2 stalks of celery chopped into a couple of pieces so they’ll fit

lots of fresh herbs (a hand full) I use what I have on hand but ideally it would be basil, oregano, Italian parsley and thyme

process this stuff until it’s like a fine dice, doesn’t have to be pureed

Heat up a large pot (medium heat) and add a bit of olive oil, if I had to guess, I’d say about a tablespoon.

Once the oil is hot add the veg mixture, salt and pepper to taste and sauté until translucent and soft.

Mix in one small can of tomato paste and stir until it is completely incorporated with the veg.

Pour about a cup to a cup and a half of red wine into the pot and let simmer until reduced by at least half. Please only use a wine that you would drink since you will be concentrating the flavor. “Cooking wine” is useless.

Once it’s reduced you can use 1 large can of crushed tomatoes or two cups of pureed fresh tomatoes. If you use canned tomatoes simmer for at least an hour with the lid on (stirring occasionally) then taste and season with salt and pepper to taste. At this point you can add a bit more fresh chopped herbs and then simmer for an additional 30 min with the lid off. If you use fresh you may need to simmer it a bit longer to achieve right flavor and consistency. If it’s too liquidy, simmer longer with the lid off to reduce the liquid. If it’s too thick add a bit of chicken stock until you get it how you want it.

This is obviously something you need to do well ahead of dinner time. Good sauce takes time people!

If you are short on time you should try a puttanesca (which literally translates to “whore’s style spaghetti” in Italian. Maybe because its fast and easy??). It’s rustic and tastes different than marinara (think spicy and briny) but it’s really delicious and looks pretty (healthy too, tastes great with spaghetti squash)!



My quick recipe for that is to sauté chopped garlic and anchovies (yes) in olive oil in a large skillet. Add chopped peppers (sweet or spicy, whichever you prefer), halved or quartered cherry tomatoes, halved pitted olives, capers and chopped fresh herbs. Add a splash of dry white or red wine and then simmer and reduce. Toss it with al dente pasta in the sauté pan and allow the pasta to absorb some of the liquid.

There ya go!

Have a great Thursday! I’ll be celebrating a friend’s birthday tonight so see you tomorrow.

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5 thoughts on “Basic Marinara

    • Never tried that so I don’t know how it would taste but its a good idea! You could always use a bit of chicken stock but not as much. The wine is mostly for flavor not liquid since you’re reducing by quite a lot. Try it and let me know how it tastes!

      • Lol. I was kidding. That sounds terrible! I’ll try the recipe though… Johnathan likes it with the wine taste?

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