I find it incredible that I have not shared my favorite marinara sauce on this blog before now. It’s probably one of the things I make most often, and it’s one of the few things that I can make without a recipe within arm’s reach. Everyone needs a basic tomato sauce (or “gravy” for you Italians out there) in their recipe box. It can be the beginnings of so many wonderful things! I make this sauce in large batches and freeze it for later use. We use it with pasta, lasagna, our favorite meatballs, and pizza. I *may* also occasionally just eat it straight with a spoon or dip warm, crusty bread in it for a snack. I’m not ashamed! It’s a great base sauce to start with if you’re making a Puttanesca or Fra Diavlo sauce, too. I try to keep a supply of this sauce in the freezer at all times. While I have found a few pre-made sauces that work fine for a quick dinner, nothing beats the homemade version.
Source: Me and My Roommate, originally from mom
1 small onion, finely diced
¼ cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 28-oz cans whole peeled tomatoes*
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or basil (or 1 Tablespoon of each)**
Other optional additions:
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes if you’re feeling punchy
½ cup of red wine (or more to taste, wink wink)
*I like Cento tomatoes, but Hunt’s is a good cheaper alternative. You can use cans of crushed tomatoes, but I prefer to buy whole ones and chop them up myself.
**Fresh herbs are best, but if I don’t have any on hand I’ll use about a teaspoon each of dried oregano and parsley.
Heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven. Sauté the onions, ¼ teaspoon salt, and a few grinds of black pepper, stirring occasionally until they are translucent, about 10 minutes. Adjust the heat down as necessary so that they do not brown. Add the garlic to the pot and sauté for two minutes, or until fragrant.
Meanwhile, add half of a can of tomatoes to a food processor and pulse a few times to break them up to your desired consistency (I like them very finely chopped). Transfer the chopped tomatoes to the pot with the onions and garlic, and repeat with the remaining tomatoes. Once all of the tomatoes have been added to the onions, add the tomato paste, ½ teaspoon salt, crushed red pepper flakes (if using), red wine (if using), and fresh herbs. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer, covered, until the sauce has thickened, about 1 ½ hours. Taste for seasonings, and add more salt or fresh herbs if desired.
Fresh sauce may be kept in the refrigerator for a few days, but after that it should be frozen. I freeze mine in airtight plastic containers or zip-top baggies.