Simple Homemade Marinara

So easy and incredibly delicious, there is NO reason not to ditch the dusty store-bought jar of marinara sauce you’ve got hiding there in the back of your pantry and make your own. With basically five ingredients (most of which you probably already have on hand) and some fresh herb-iage, in about 20 minutes….you’ll have a super quick, fresh sauce.

Got some time? Cook it down for another hour or more, and you’ll have a richer, thicker marinara. Want to add some heft? Add meat if you like…..mushrooms if that’s what makes your heart quiver….maybe some bell peppers. Want to get fancy? A glug or two of red wine….(easy now) will do the trick. 

This saucy pot of crimson carotenoids (good stuff) will become the backbone of many of your favorite recipes, and you will feel really great about impressing everyone (yourself included) with a beautiful red sauce that is pure amore. 

Marinara ingredients

Since there are so few ingredients required, I gotta urge you……use the best that you can scrounge up. San Marzano tomatoes are an Italian plum tomato considered to be the finest for making sauce, but I have to tell you that I have used Hunts many times in the past and been really happy with the results so there you go! 

I begin a little unconventionally. I start with cold olive oil and garlic.


What I do is take a garlic clove, and smash it with my palm over the flat side of a knife, skin and all. That will pop it out of it’s papery skin, and get the juices flowing, so to speak. After removing the skin, I add the smashed clove to about a quarter cup of olive oil in a large COLD pot (a dutch oven is great for this, or any large soup pot that you may have). Bring this up to a medium heat, and gently cook the garlic in the oil (make sure to turn it so that it does not burn on you) until it becomes browned. This should only take about three minutes. What this will do is flavor the sauce with a beautiful garlic nuance without overpowering it. Make sure to fish it all out once it’s done the job.

chopping onion for sauce

Chop up half of that big yellow onion. Toss it into that pot of garlic kissed olive oil and let it cook until it’s softened and slightly carmelized, maybe five minutes. Add that little can of tomato paste and stir that around, let that cook with the onion another minute or so. Now it’s just a matter opening those other two big ‘ol cans of tomatoes………

Simple homemade marinara

Splooge into the pot they go, juice and all……along with salt, pepper, dried oregano. Add a cup of water to this (remember that red wine I mentioned earlier? This is a good time for that in place of the water) and give it a stir. Cover the pot and let it bubble gently away for whatever time you may have, from twenty minutes up to two hours.

Simple homemade marinara

Add your fresh herbs, in this case basil, at the very end of the simmer time.

Simple homemade marinara

Now it’s time to give it a buzz with your trusty immersion blender! Of course you can always use a regular blender for this, but please do it in small batches and be careful not to burn yourself!

Simple homemade marinara

And there you have it! Give it a taste for seasoning…..and think about all of the things you can do with this! Like, maybe……..this?

Recipe below:

Home-made marinara
  1. 1/4 cup of olive oil
  2. 1 garlic clove, smashed
  3. 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
  4. 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
  5. 2 (32 oz) cans of whole tomatoes
  6. 1 cup of water*
  7. 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  8. 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  9. 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  10. 10-12 fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
  1. Smash the garlic clove with the palm of your hand against the flat part of a knife to release the skin and flatten the garlic
  2. In a large cold pot add the olive oil and smashed garlic. Turn on the heat to medium
  3. Gently cook the garlic in the oil, browning on both sides, about 3-5 minutes. Remove all the garlic from the oil and discard
  4. Add chopped onion to the pot, stirring and cooking until onion is slightly translucent and golden, about 5 minutes**
  5. Add the tomato paste to the onion and continue stirring and cooking, another minute
  6. Add the two large cans of tomatoes and their juice, the water, oregano and salt and pepper. Stir this until combined and cover the pot with a lid. Keep the heat medium low.
  7. After twenty minutes (or an hour if you have added wine instead of water) add the fresh basil to the pot and remove from heat.
  8. Blend until smooth with an immersion blender, or in batches in a stand up blender
  9. Taste for seasoning, if sauce is too thick, thin with a little water or wine.
  1. * or red wine. Make sure it's good wine and if you are using wine instead of water you want to make sure to give yourself extra time to cook it down.
  2. ** you can always add ground beef or ground pork or sausage or mushrooms or all of these at this point while you are cooking the onion
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