Thursday, November 20, 2008

Homemade QUICK Marinara

It's come to my attention on several occasions over the past month or so that a lot of people don't know how to make a quick and simple marinara sauce. IT IS SO EASY! It's inexpensive, fast and yummy. Great combo! For those of you who don't have tomatoes stock piled in your freezer or canned in your basement -- it's okay, you can use canned! It's great to have several 32 oz cans of plum tomatoes in your pantry for this reason. OK, here goes . . .

Homemade Marinara

First of all, this doesn't have to be exact. For all of those scientists out there (I'm a fine art major) shake it off and let loose. It will all be okay. This recipe is for a nice coating of marinara on about 3/4 lb of pasta. If you like more marinara -- just double the recipe. This should take you the same amount of time it takes to boil the water and cook the pasta (once you get the hang of it).

  • Put a large pot of water for pasta on the stove. Throw in 1 T of salt into the water.
  • Drizzle the bottom of a large saute pan generously with olive oil - set stove to med-low heat. (don't skimp on the olive oil -- it builds up the good HDL cholesterol in your body and tastes yummy)
  • Crush, slice or chop 4-6 cloves of fresh garlic into the olive oil. Experiment with how you like your garlic best. Do not use that horrific chopped garlic from a jar (ever).
  • Saute garlic until it's getting soft and translucent, but not browning. Stir around from time to time while you do other things. (no biggie if it gets golden a little this time - don't stress)
  • Add about 1/2 t salt and about 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes if your serving children, 1/2 - 1 t if you enjoy a little kick in your marinara (which I do).
  • When your garlic is softish turn up your heat to medium high and dump about a 32 oz of plum tomatoes (or a thawed 1 quart bag from the freezer) into the pan. The tomatoes should spatter like crazy. That's good. If you have a spatter screen, put it over the pan, or partially cover the pan with the top to cut down on clean up. Keep the heat up on medium high to break the tomatoes down. Stir from time to time to make sure they don't stick to the bottom of the pan. If your tomatoes have the the skins on them still, I usually just tong them out of the pan one by one after they fall off each tomato to save time.
  • **right about now, put the pasta in the boiling water** (cook pasta al-dente because you will be cooking it more in the saute pan later.)
  • Smash tomatoes with a potato masher if they need to be broken down further. Your marinara should be thickening up. At some point after the tomatoes have broken down, you will want to turn the heat down to medium.
  • Just before (not sooner) add a ladle full (or so) of the starchy pasta water to your marinara sauce. This will make the sauce cling to the pasta. Reserve a little (maybe 1/2 a cup) of the pasta water in case your sauce gets a little to dry or thick.
  • Dump a big ole bunch (maybe 1 cup of leaves before they are chopped - I like even more) of fresh chopped basil and or parsley in the the marinara. (I usually do one or the other, but it's up to you.)
  • Drain your cooked pasta and dump the whole thing into your saute pan.
  • Flip and toss your pasta around in the saute pan to coat it with the marinara. If you need to, add in a little of the reserved pasta water. Maybe add a little more olive oil -- drizzle it around. Sometimes I grate parm cheese into the pan at this point too.
  • Serve with freshly grated parmigiana-reggiano cheese.

That's it!


  • 1 quart tomatoes or 32 oz can of plum tomatoes (include the juice in the can)
  • 4-6 cloves garlic
  • 1T plus 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 - 1 t red pepper flakes
    1 Cup (before they are chopped) fresh basil or parsley leaves.
  • About 3/4 lb pasta

I'll leave you with this picture of some herbs and apples that I've dehydrated. As you may remember, I had a bad experience trying to dry tomatoes in the late summer here in humid New England. They all got mold. So, I purchased a dehydrator. It didn't dawn on me until late in the season that I could dehydrate my own herbs as well. Next year I will dehydrate a lot more.

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