Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Homemade Marinara

Making your own marinara sauce is worth the effort & saves money when you keep some of the staples in your pantry. It's quite simple, the most important thing to remember is taste, taste, taste. There is a lot of variance when it comes to tomatoes, garlic, onions and their acidity.

Here are the ingredients:
Olive Oil
2 medium or 3 smallish onions (sweet onions are great in season)
4 cloves garlic
1 Tbs. tomato paste
About 1/2 cup Red wine (I like a good Chianti)
2-28oz. cans whole peeled tomatoes
Salt, sugar, Italian seasonings to suit your taste

Heat about 2-3 Tbs. olive oil in heavy Dutch oven. While oil is heating, chop onions and then add to hot pan.

Cook onions down until soft and translucent, as you would for risotto. Don't allow them to scorch. While onions are cooking merrily, mince your garlic and have your tomato paste at the ready.

In addition, place canned tomatoes in colander, catching the juices. Remove any fibrous parts and set tomatoes & juice aside.

Add garlic to cooked onions and stir until fragrant, then add tomato paste. You will have a pinkish mixture that smells amazing. Here is where I add a splash of the red wine. After adding some of the wine, use your wooden spoon to work all the caramelized onion from the bottom & sides of pan.

Here are the tomatoes I used-my favorite is Liguria but this is what I had on hand. A good Italian market will offer several varieties. Add drained tomatoes to pan as well as remainder of wine. Now, we wait....letting tomatoes cook and stirring pot occasionally.

Once sauce has cooked down, I use an immersion blender to smooth it out. I have had mine since college (early 90s!) and it is a terrific tool.

Now, the tasting begins. We added fresh Italian sausage last night, so that added a lot of flavor to my batch. But if you are having straight up marinara, you need to sample and adjust.

A bit of sugar helps balance the acidity.

A bit of salt cuts jammy, too sweet flavor.

Extra virgin olive oil drizzled in helps meld the flavors.

The boys wanted to take a picture with the Italian sausage. I used half of it & froze the other half. For locals: Amici is our hands-down favorite homemade sausage. If you like pungent fennel, Westbrook is your market.

Remove the casing & cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon. It adds great depth to your homemade sauce.

Here's the finished product with freshly grated Parmegiano Reggiano. Enjoy!


  1. Be sure my children will love this recipe!!!
    Thank's for you lovely comment in french on my blog
    Discover you blog with pleasure.
    Blessings from France

  2. Yum! I love making homemade stuff, I'm definitely going to try this!

  3. Suzel,
    Francais etait ma specialite et je suis allee a l'Universite de Grenoble en l'ete de 1993. Pas sure d'ecrire les accents? Je vais lire votre blog beaucoup pour ameliorer les choses que j'ai oublie!

  4. I can smell the garlic and sausage now. Yum! I wish I had an Amici's around the corner. :( If I ever make sauce like this I have to go to the pork section and make my own. Mom has done that with me once.

  5. Make it without the sausage, Lisa. I actually prefer it without. Tastes similar to Maggianos.