Homemade Marinara Sauce

in Recipes

What happens when you acquire 6 pounds of Campari tomatoes? Obviously, you make sauce.

Not just any sauce though. You make this sauce: the most flavorful, fresh, and tasty tomato sauce around.

Luckily, my mom never purchased store bought tomato sauce growing up. Can you imagine how spoiled that would make me? Not just sauce spoiled, but a sauce snob. Why would you buy canned sauce, when you can just make it? Yes, yes, yes…it is time consuming, I understand. But make it on the weekend, in the middle of the night, take a day off work and make SAUCE. It soothes the heart, really. And I’m not even a drop Italian!

Oh, but I did live in Italy. And trust me, that made me an even more discerning sauce snob. I had the wonderful opportunity to study abroad in Orvieto, Italy; the most charming, quintessential Italian village you ever did see. Orvieto is situated up on an old volcanic plateau surrounded by olive fields, vineyards, and gorgeous countryside. There is a famous Duomo that sits in a large piazza that rings and pierces joy through your soul. Few cars drive around the streets, women hang their laundry outside their windows to dry in the breeze, and old men sit around on benches and drink strong espresso. Sounds just awful, right?

Across the street from my apartment was the fruit and vegetable stand owned by the old Italian gentleman, Rico…you’ll hear lots about him, trust me. Surrounding Rico’s shop, the streets are lined with tiny fronts selling the freshest cheese, wine, prosciutto, pizza, and of course tomatoes for sauce. And sauce I did make.

My study abroad groups held weekly potlucks. Sauce was obviously involved. Myself and the two other girls I shared my apartment with would carry large pots, pans, and utensils across the cobblestone streets of town getting all sorts of weird looks. Most probably were thinking, “Why is this blonde girl carrying a large pot down the street?”

Yet again, this was Italy. The smell of sauce wafting down the street and cookware was really nothing out of the ordinary. The blonde girl, however, definitely was.

I hope you enjoy this recipe. I’ve made it many, many, many times using a variety of tomatoes, and it always tastes perfect. Put it on pizza, spaghetti squash, and pasta, dip your bread into it, spread it on a sandwich, dip veggies in it; your options are endless. Also enjoy a huge boost of Vitamin C, lycopene and antioxidants from the tomatoes and a punch of flavor and vitamin K from the fresh basil.

I hope you never, ever buy store bought sauce again. Mangia, mangia!

Homemade Marinara Sauce

AKA: A non-Italian, blonde girl’s recipe for the most perfect Italian tomato sauce, ever.

5 pounds of tomatoes, I used Campari and a few other stragglers, but other varieties will work just as well*
3 T olive oil
1 small white onion, diced
7 cloves of garlic, finely chopped (the more the merrier)
1 heaping tablespoon each: dried oregano, basil, Italian seasoning
½ T crushed red chili pepper flakes
1 tsp sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
1, 6oz can of tomato paste, optional
½ cup red wine
1 T balsamic vinegar
A handful of fresh basil, chopped up.

First start with your tomatoes. To remove their skin, use a pairing knife to cut a small ‘X’ on top, and place in simmering water for about 10 seconds. Remove tomatoes with a slotted spoon and drop in a large bowl of ice water for a minute or two. When you remove the tomatoes from their ice bath, the skin will easily peel off. To remove their seeds, literally squeeze the tomatoes over the sink. Note, this is very fun, but super messy! I suggest NOT wearing white during this process. Also make sure the tomatoes are cooled off, or you will burn your hands. I suggest while the tomatoes are cooling, begin heating up your olive oil and chopping your onions and garlic.

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and sauté 5-10 minutes until they become translucent and tender. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté about 5 minutes, or until garlic becomes golden.

Add your tomatoes next. Bring sauce to a boil, stirring often as tomatoes begin to break down. Once boiling, turn heat down to a simmer and add the remainder of your ingredients. Note, I add a can of tomato paste to make my sauce nice and thick. If you prefer a thinner sauce, skip this step.

Allow your sauce to simmer for about 2 hours (or all day), stirring every now and then.

Serve on pizza, pasta, lasagna, quinoa, zucchini noodles, vegetables, etc. Your options are endless!

Use fresh or store in the fridge for a week. You can also freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

*If it’s the middle of winter, or you lack access to good quality tomatoes – don’t fret… choose quality canned tomato varieties instead. I prefer using organic, whole, peeled canned tomatoes which are usually the least processed and taste the best. Don’t buy cans with added seasonings – you can add your own and save yourself some money. If making this recipe, use three-four 32 oz cans of tomatoes – an assortment of whole, crushed, and diced tomatoes work well.

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