An easy Marinara Sauce is also known simply as Tomato Sauce. This sauce is ideal for pasta, lasagna, and stuffed shells; you can even use it as pizza sauce.
What is Marinara Sauce?
The Classic Marinara sauce recipe is usually made with whole tomatoes (plum tomatoes or San Marzano tomatoes), fresh garlic, and herbs. It can also include onions, olives, spices, and even a dash of wine in its many variations. It makes a great pasta sauce.
Here in Italy, alla marinara refers to a sauce made with tomatoes, basil, oregano, and sometimes olives, capers, and salted anchovies. People often use it as spaghetti sauce.
This free version is the simplest possible and still delicious and full of flavor. Most Italian Sauces rely on simplicity, suitable techniques, and ingredients, just like Puttanesca Sauce, the Eggplant-based Pasta, Alla Norma, and the Roman Cacio e Pepe.
For this easy tomato sauce, you only need
- Passata (fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes, or crushed tomatoes work as well)
- Minced garlic
- Fresh basil
Add a dash of salt and pepper, and you have a delicious and simple tomato sauce. You can choose to add extra virgin olive oil when stir-frying the garlic or ad the end. Use a dash of brown sugar to balance the acidity if you like.
Salt rounds up the flavor, and sugar balances the acidity of the tomato.
Wash fresh your basil leaves.
To make marinara sauce, chop, or even better, mince the garlic, heat olive oil, and stir-fry it on medium-low heat for 30 seconds. You can also add two tablespoons of water if cooking without oils.
Add the tomato sauce (Italian Passata) or diced tomatoes, half of the basil, salt, and sugar. If using oregano, you can also add it at this point.
Tip: if you prefer a runny marinara, use tomato sauce. If you like it chunkier you can either use chunky tomato sauce or add canned peeled tomatoes into the saucepan and directly blend them with an immersion blender.
Let the sauce cook on medium-low heat with a lid for 15 to 25 minutes, occasionally stirring with a wooden spoon, until thick.
Add the remaining basil leaves, put a lid on top and let it rest for 5 minutes, or store when it has already cooled down.
You can add a finely chopped white or yellow onion to the sauce at the beginning of the cooking, just after frying the garlic. Many people go for this option; I like it more without it.
In addition to chopped fresh basil, you can include a tablespoon of fresh or dried oregano. I love the fresh basil by itself, so I tend to use oregano only when I am out of fresh basil.
If you want to add more complexity to the sauce, you can add a tablespoon of halved green olives.
Add some capers if you like capers and want an extra acidity punch.
To add more dept, you may choose to add half a cup of leftover red wine or a tablespoon of tomato paste.
Spicy - if you want to add some heat, you can use red pepper flakes to your fresh marinara sauce.
This easy homemade marinara sauce is so quick and versatile that we always keep one jar in the fridge and another portion in the freezer.
The one in the fridge we store in a clean, out-of-the dishwasher mason jar.
Totally. We always keep a batch in my freezer. We like making pizza once a week, and it is convenient to have the tomato sauce ready. As we use this easy tomato sauce on a variety of dishes is a great keeper.
Simply thaw either in the refrigerator overnight or place the frozen chunk in a small or medium saucepan and a half-cup of water and let it simmer for 5-10 minutes.
How to use it
If you want more Simple Italian Sauces, check out:
- 3-Ingredients Pasta Sauce
- 5-Minutes Vegan Pesto Sauce
- Puttanesca sauce recipe
- Creamy Vegan Sauce for Everything
- Cacio e Pepe Spaghetti
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How to Make Homemade Marinara Sauce
- 1 tablespoon organic sugar cane don't use to make it WFPB
- 1 teaspoon sea salt don't use to make it WFPB
- 2 tablespoons olive oil extra-virgin, don't use to make it WFPB
- 1 onion yellow or white, chopped
- 1 tablespoon oregano preferably fresh, dry also works
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 1 tablespoon green olives halved
- ½ cup red wine
- Chop. Grind or thinly chop the garlic and fry in olive oil on medium heat for 30 seconds. You can also add 2 tablespoons of water if cooking without oils.2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 onion
- Add the tomato sauce, half of the basil leaves, sugar, and salt.24 ounces tomato sauce
- Cook for twenty to thirty minutes until it has reduced one-third. It should be thick.
- Remove from heat and add the remaining basil leaves. Taste for salt. Let it rest.
If using oregano, add it when the first batch of basil is added.
If choosing to add red wine, add it with the tomato sauce.
If using olives or capers, add them during the last five minutes before removing them from the heat. You can replace the tomato sauce with canned tomatoes or fresh super-ripe plum tomatoes (use the same quantity and put them in a blender for 1-2 minutes until pureed). If freezing any leftovers simply thaw either in the refrigerator overnight or place the frozen chunk in a small or medium sauce pan along with half-cup of water and let it simmer for 5-10 minutes.