Making Marinara From Scratch

making marinara

Marinara is often called The Mother of Italian Red Sauces and I can see why. Marinara can be the base for so many dishes, think lasagna, stuffed shells, manicotti, meatballs, eggplant and chicken parmigiana, eggs in purgatory, dipping sauce for fried veggies, pizza, seafood stews, I can go on and on.

Marinara can be slightly altered to create other sauces such as arrabiatta, roasted red pepper and vodka just to name a few. Needless to say marinara is an important staple in any kitchen.

If you’ve never made your own now is the time to start. There are so many ways to make marinara and each family has their own special way, this is mine. You won’t find any butter and onions in mine, no wine, meat or tomato paste but you’ll always find fresh basil and garlic.

saute garlic

Over the years I’ve used many different brands of tomatoes, some have come and gone but the thing that is consistent is that I always use the San Marzano variety, specifically the cans that are stamped with the D.O.P. ( Protected designation of origin ).

D.O.P. Certification guarantees that a tomato is of the San Marzano variety, and the taste in my opinion is far superior than other canned tomatoes. Smooth with no acidity, pronounced flavor, dense with fewer seeds and slightly sweet, you’ll never need to add any sugar to your sauce.

When you use quality ingredients all your dishes will be superior tasting with little effort, and you just can’t get that from a jar. In my opinion they are well worth the higher price tag.

whole tomatoes

Look how thick and dense those tomatoes are!

immersion blender

Making your own marinara really takes no time at all, it’s quick and easy to make and you definitely won’t find that fresh taste in any store bought jar. You can make it ahead of time, it’s freezer friendly and you can double or  even triple the recipe if need be.

simmering sauce

There’s nothing like the smell of homemade marinara simmering on the stove.

large canned tomatoes

If you’re making a large amount look for those big cans which are around six pounds, I find they’re usually a pretty good price and perfect for making big amounts before the holidays and special occasions.

large pot of sauce

Just make sure you have a big enough pot!

cooking with kidsfreezer ready

Quart containers that you can purchase that are  food safe and freezer friendly are perfect for storing your surplus of sauce if you’re making a lot.

empty pot

Good to the last drop!

pasta girl

Making your own marinara is great to have on hand for a quick dinner, when unexpected company stops by or when your grandchild has a taste for some pasta with YOUR sauce. It’s like money in the bank!

Making Marinara From Scratch
There are many different versions of homemade marinara, this is my family favorite.
  • 3 - 28 oz. cans of San Marzano whole tomatoes with the D.O.P. stamp on the can
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 large fresh cloves of garlic per can ( 9) crushed ( please don't use bottled garlic!)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt per can (3)
  • pepper to taste
  • a generous handful of fresh basil, plus extra
  1. Add your oil to a heavy bottomed pot.
  2. Toss in the. crushed garlic and cook on medium until you start to smell it and it's very lightly golden, if it burns start over.
  3. Pour in the whole tomatoes.
  4. Take an immersion blender and mix until smooth, the immersion blender will infuse all the garlic pieces into the sauce that were crushed.
  5. Toss in the generous bunch of basil and submerge it into the sauce.
  6. Simmer low for 1 to 1½ hours.
  7. NOTE;
  8. If you want your sauce a little thicker I sometimes add half a bottle of passata which is a strained tomato puree, readily available in most stores. Never use paste for this.
  9. When sauce is finished, remove basil bunch inside and discard.
  10. To finish add in some torn fresh basil leaves.
  11. NOTE:
  12. You can double, triple this recipe and you can freeze your marinara for up to 2 months. It freezes well.
  13. This recipe makes 3-4 quarts depending if you use a bottle of passata.



Roasted Red Pepper Sauce and Fettuccine in Foil

Lately we’ve been loving roasted red pepper sauce, a simple combination of homemade marinara blended with roasted red peppers creates a dynamic flavor combination, toss it in some pasta and it is hard to resist!

Every couple of weeks or so I make a huge pot of marinara, I buy a 6lb can of San Marzano tomatoes, saute 12 to 15 cloves of chopped garlic in 3/4 cup of olive oil, 5 teaspoons of salt, pepper and lots of basil, sometimes I might add a small onion but most times I don’t.

After it simmers for a good while I let it cool down, pour it into containers and stick it in the freezer for when ever I need it. In this case I held one out to make my roasted red pepper sauce.

I suggest roasting your own peppers, I personally don’t like the flavor of the jarred ones and besides, they’re too watery for this recipe. I put mine which were drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper under the broiler, keep watching them until they’re soft and slightly charred. Peel the skin off and whirl them in your food processor.

Look at that color isn’t it beautiful? Now all you have to do is spoon your already highly flavored marinara into the mix, as much as you want accordingly to your own taste, until you reach the perfect balance of pepper verses tomato. The more pepper flavor the better, that’s what you’re aiming for here.
My al’ dente cooked fettuccine was then tossed with that luscious roasted red pepper sauce, pre roasted eggplant, cherry tomatoes, zucchini and artichokes, I added in some olives, lots of basil and parsley.

For a rustic presentation I placed it into individual foil packets and top it with a few pieces of fresh mozzarella, seal it tight and put it in a 350F oven for 15 minutes until cheese gets gooey and heated through.
So Good!

Buon Appetito!