Marinara Sauce

Marinara sauce (AKA Spaghetti sauce, Neapolitan sauce, pizza sauce, etc) was created by southern Italians when the Spanish explorers brought tomatoes from “The New World” to Europe. The Italian sailors traveling to Spain were naturally the first ones to get their hands on the new fruit hence the name (marinara = mariners). Since southern Italy is heavily influenced by the sea much of the cuisine is seafood, and marinara sauce started out as a seafood sauce, but as it spread north other meats were used. Once the sauce made it’s way back to where the tomatoes came from, it became known as THE pasta sauce.

This is a recipe for a simple marinara sauce. I prefer to make a large amount this way as it freezes very well, and can have meat or spices added to it later, or thickened for pizza.

Two things you can’t skimp on if you want good sauce: tomatoes and basil. If you HAVE to use some other tomatoes, at least use fresh basil.


  • 6 28oz cans of San Marzano tomatoes
  • 2 12oz cans tomato paste
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2-4 cloves garlic (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • handful of fresh basil
  • 2-3 Tbs Italian spices
San Marzano tomatoes which include basil

Open the cans and pour into a 10+ quart pot. Use a stick blender to break the tomatoes up, but don’t feel the need to liquify them since the cooking process breaks them down. Start simmering over low heat.

Blended tomatoesOnce the tomatoes are started, chop the onions and garlic and saute over medium-high heat with a bit of oil until translucent.

Onions and garlic. (I used roasted garlic in this shot)

Mix onions and garlic into the tomato sauce and return the pan to the burner. Pour tomato paste into the pan and stir constantly to caramelize and thicken the paste.

Once the paste has darkened, add wine to deglaze the pan and add to the sauce.

Chop the fresh basil along with any other fresh herbs you’re using and add to sauce.

Add any dried herbs and spices you like. I use fresh basil, a bit of black pepper and 2-3 Tbs mix of oregano, thyme, marjoram and rosemary, saving the crushed red pepper for myself.

Add olive oil to the sauce and stir well. Reduce heat as low as you can and simmer for 5-6 hours, stirring occasionally.

Once it has cooled the sauce can be frozen for months. Reduce a few cups of the sauce for use on pizza or as breadstick dip. Save a jar in your fridge for topping leftovers.

But first, while it’s fresh, serve with pasta, Parmesan cheese and garlic bread.

Note: Many people use carrots, I choose not to, but nothing wrong with that. Also, for the best results, brown a large piece of beef or pork in the pan before starting.