Over the years, I kept adjusting my recipe for a true, delicious Marinara sauce. You know, that classic staple of Italian cuisine, a base for many Italian dishes. I love this marinara sauce in lasagnas, with meatballs, or, when adding a ground beef you can turn it into Bolognese. Why would you bother, when you can buy a ready to go jar of sauce from multiple brands? Well, maybe if you’re watching what you eat, like me, and want to eliminate unnecessary sugar, different preservatives or chemicals from your diet. Plus, making it yourself allows you to use organic ingredients and control the taste.
Marinara takes time, but it’s not difficult to make! You can even make a large amount, split into containers and freeze. With an extra bonus of the lovely aroma in the kitchen. Mix with zucchini noodles and you have got a delicious Paleo or Keto meal!
Foolproof Marinara Sauce
Yield: 4-5 portions
- 2x 28oz cans of whole tomatoes (preferably from San Marzano, any brand)
- 1 small onion minced
- 3-4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 medium-size carrots, peeled and cut into small cubes
- 2-3 sticks of celery, cut into similar size cubes
- Dried oregano
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1 Cup water
- 1 tablespoon Tomato paste
- ½ cup white wine (dry Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, do not use cooking wine)
- ½ teaspoon red hot pepper flakes
- tablespoon of butter (optional)
- Big bunch of fresh basil
- Rim of parmesan cheese (optional)
Heat up oil in a large pot, and sauté onions, garlic, hot pepper flakes, oregano, carrots, and celery for about 3 minutes on medium low heat, or until nice and aromatic. Most delicious dishes start with some variety of soffritto, which is also the base of this sauce. I personally like smaller pieces of veggies, but the cut is completely up to you, as long as they’re a similar size for even cooking.
Season with salt and pepper. In the meantime pour whole tomatoes into a food processor and pulse a few times (for small chunks of tomatoes in your sauce). If you don’t like chunks in your sauce, then process completely until tomatoes turn into a puree.
When the veggies start to soften up, add tomato paste and mix well to caramelize the paste. Cook for a minute with vegetables and pour white wine over everything. Let the wine evaporate, and when almost dry, pour in tomatoes with all its juices. Add water. I often pour little water into tomato cans and splash to make sure every bit of the tomato juice went into the sauce.
Cut a big chunk of basil, wash, leave whole and add to the sauce. Mix, turn the heat to simmer low, and let the sauce cook for about 1-2 hours, or until it reaches desired consistency. If using, add the parmesan rim for a flavor. The sauce will reduce about 1/3 of its original amount.
When the sauce is to your liking, taste for seasoning, and eventually add more salt and pepper. If too acidic, add a tablespoon of butter and let dissolve in the sauce. Fish out the big chunk of basil that was cooking with the sauce and the parmesan rim.
Slice up a handful of fresh basil and add to the sauce when you already took it off the heat. Now you’re ready to use your aromatic sauce as it is, with meatballs, in lasagna or whatever you desire. Enjoy!