Pasta Two Ways: Marinara Sauce

by J.S. on October 2, 2011

in Recipes

Here’s my no fail Marinara. It’s so good I  could eat it with a spoon. Best part, you can put it on pizza, on eggplant, lasagna, whatever. This isn’t the type of sauce that I would make for spaghetti and meatballs or a meat sauce. It’s light and sweet and really holds up on its own. It’s one of the main sauces to master.

A few notes about what makes a good sauce:

1. the tomatoes. ALWAYS opt for the more expensive canned tomatoes. They really make difference. This is one place where I would urge you to spend. Go for the San Marzano crushed and diced tomatoes. They’ll run you about $3.50 a can but in a dish with so few ingredients you have to go for the best. I promise you it will make a huge difference and the dish will still run you under $15 for a family of 4.

2. the wine. If you’re cooking for children and concerned about the wine cooking out you can omit it. The majority of the alcohol content will cook out.So if you’re going all the way, use white wine. My rules for wine in sauces are simple; anything with a “meaty” component gets red. This includes sauces like a Puttanesca because the olives offer a “meaty” addition. In marinara with no “meaty” component you would add white for the sweeter lighter notes. Always use wine you would drink but it doesn’t need to pricey. I almost always cook with Trader Joe’s  Charles Shaw for $2 it’s really hard to beat.


1 tbs olive oil

3 cloves of garlic finely chopped

1/2 an onion finely chopped

red pepper flakes

salt & pepper to taste

2 tsp sun dried tomato paste

1/2 jar of sun dried tomato and half the oil in the jar

1 can of crushed tomatoes

1 can of dices tomatoes

1/2 cup white wine

fresh basil leaves


In a sauce pan over medium heat add the olive oil and cook until warm. Next add the onion,  garlic, red pepper flakes, salt & pepper. Cook until the onions are translucent.

Add the sun dried tomato paste, the sun dried tomatoes and the oil and cook until the tomatoes began to plump and soften. Finally, add the tomatoes and the wine and cook from 10 minutes. Pour sauce into a food processor and puree until smooth. Pour back into the pan and keep warm. Tear fresh basil and add to sauce. Serve over anything. Garnish with parmesan cheese.

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