Marinara sauce, of which my Italian grandmother approves

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a basic, easy, and foolproof method to make marinara.

Preparation time: 50 min
Cooking time: 40 min

Serves: many

Dietary guidance: v 

Tags: main · pasta · italian · sauce · tomatoes · marinara ·


4 28-oz. cans of Muir Glen diced tomatoes (don't use a cheaper brand; you'll regret it.)
1-2 T. olive oil
1 T. kosher salt
1/2 t. crushed red pepper
5 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 c. (lightly packed) fresh basil, torn into small bits


1) Slice the garlic and prepare the tomatoes to the consistency you like (I usually puree 3 cans of the tomatoes in a food processor, and leave the fourth as is).

2) Over low to medium heat, saute the garlic in the olive oil, about 5 minutes, until softened and very lightly browned. If the garlic burns, start over, as burnt garlic is bitter.

3) Add the crushed red pepper and heat for about 30 seconds.

4) Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Add the salt and basil and stir to combine. Simmer over medium heat for about 30 minutes, or until it has reached the consistency you like.

5) Serve over pasta (a long thin noodle, such as spaghetti, is right here), with freshly grated pecorino romano.


A) This recipe makes a huge amount, and stores very well. I freeze it in one-cup portions and use it for quick meals.

B) Marinara is also a great building block for other preparations:

--add sauteed ground beef, sauteed celery, carrots, onion, and some oregano for a poor man's bolognese (if you want to do things properly, saute the beef, then reduce 1 c. red wine and 1 c. milk--separately--into the beef, then add the sauteed vegetables, then the marinara, then simmer until everyone has gotten properly acquainted--but I often skip the milk or the wine or both if I'm in a hurry. Sauteed mushrooms work nicely here as well).

--add capers, nicoise olives, more basil, more red pepper for a puttanesca

--saute pancetta or prosciutto with white onion and more red pepper for an arabbiatta sauce

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