I feel like I’ve been making marinara almost my whole life (my grandmother’s family is from Sicily). I’ve changed it a bit as I’ve grown older and changed myself. At this stage in my life I’ve tried to make it as easy as possible, while still retaining good flavor. I play somewhat fast and loose with seasonings, so be sure to taste test along the way! This amount makes enough to feed a family of 5 with some left over. It’s easy to half or double as needed.
This is a delicious gfcf, gluten free, family-friendly recipe! It is also (if you double check ingredients!) a wheat free, dairy free, soy free, egg free, tree nut free, peanut free, fish free, shellfish free, corn free, top 8 allergen free, vegan, vegetarian, and South Beach safe recipe.
- 2 28oz cans crushed tomatoes, or 1 crushed, one petite diced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2+ tsp basil
- 2+ tsp oregano
- 1 tsp parsley
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 shake red pepper flakes
- 2 pinches Kosher or Sea salt
- a few grinds pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- splash white wine
Warm the olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. Sauté the onion and garlic, watching that the garlic doesn’t brown or burn. Sprinkle the spices over the onion and garlic, stirring them together. (Dried herbs will intensify their flavor if warmed like this)
Add a splash of wine, and after the wine has sizzled, add the 2 cans of tomatoes. Add salt and pepper and a bay leaf. (The wine is, of course, optional. However, flavors can be carried by fat (oil), water, acid (tomatoes), and alcohol. My best sauces are always the ones with a splash of wine.)
Turn the heat up to High, and stir occasionally, waiting for the sauce to come to a boil. When it boils, turn it down to low or medium-low, allowing it to simmer.
Let the sauce simmer for at least an hour to let the flavors develop.
If you have leftover sauce, it freezes very well! I will sometimes make a double batch just to have some in the freezer for a quick and easy meal later.
- Pizza Sauce: Add about 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes with the other spices. Let boil a few minutes longer to reduce (concentrate) the sauce. If you cook off some of the extra liquid, it won’t make the pizza crust. Another option is to use 1 can petite diced tomatoes, drained, in addition to the 1 can crushed tomatoes – then there is less liquid in the sauce.
- Vegetable Sauce (or, not-quite-rattatouille): peel and dice 1 small eggplant, slice a handful of mushrooms, and dice a summer squash and a zucchini. Add the vegetables after the onion and garlic have started to soften. Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have started to soften. Return to the above directions, starting with adding the wine.
- Meat Sauce: After the onions start to soften, add 1.5 lbs ground meat. Cook until meat is browned, then follow other steps.
- Sauce with Sausages: Before you begin cooking, cut 1.5 lbs uncooked Italian sausages into circles. (Choose sweet or hot sausage as desired) Add sausages after onions begin to soften. Stir and cook until browned, then follow the other steps.