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Tag Archives | Marinara

Marinara Sauce

Full bodied Marinara Sauce that stands alone or can be used in other pasta dishes.

The Sauce: Marinara Sauce – Rich, full flavored, home simmered for a couple hours until the flavors meld into irresistible pasta sauce.

‘Great Sauces Transform Good Food into Gourmet’ 

Dynamite marinara

My friend Debbie got me hooked on San Marzano tomatoes. I’m a relatively new convert to pancetta. These two are a dynamite combination for this simple, mere five ingredient marinara sauce. I’ve always believed marinara shouldn’t need more seasoning or other ingredients. When this sauce has slow simmered to the final Marinara Saucestages of tasting and seasoning, I’m tempted, well OK, I just give in and savor a small bowl of sauce dipped from the pot.

Of course that doesn’t mean that you can’t use it as a base for more complex pasta sauces like meatball sauce or lasagna. If you do you’ll have an Italian table right in your own home. Use it solo or try Tomato Cream Sauce and Spicy Tomato Sauce. If you make Spaghetti and Meatballs or Lasagna, oh baby!

You might also enjoy Bramwell Spaghetti Sauce, Italian Spaghetti Ragu, Amatriciana, Spaghetti Carbonara and Braided Italian Bread.

1 of 3 part series ”Marinara and Friends”. Part 2 Lasagna and Part 3 Spaghetti and Meatballs. More on Marinara.

2013 AniversaRecipe – Shamrock Corned Beef Brisket
2012 AniversaRecipe – Cranberry Orange Scones
2011 AniversaRecipe – Southern Pecan Pie

Recipe: Marinara Sauce

Active Time: 20 Minutes | Total Time: 2 Hours 20 Minutes | Yield: 12 Cups

Tomatoes1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 lb pancetta, 2 1/4-inch slices, diced
3 medium onions, 1/4-inch diced
1 Tbsp kosher salt
5 cloves garlic, grated
4 28-oz cans whole peeled tomatoes
2 cups water

Special Equipment – large pot

Marinara Sauce
Pancetta1 Place olive oil in a large pot and heat on medium-high. Add pancetta and cook until the fat renders, about 4-5 minutes.

2 Add diced onions, kosher salt and cook until onions are soft and barely starting to take on a light golden color, about 6-7 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute.

3 Crush the tomatoes with your hands into small rustic pieces over the pot discarding the fibrous stem ends. Add sauce plus 2 cups of water. Bring to boil then reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours stirring occasionally.

Pancetta is sold at supermarket deli meat counters. Ask for two or three 1/4-inch slices. Otherwise find a package of pre-sliced pancetta. Usually it’s thinly sliced but you can chop in small pieces.

Rinse out the cans by placing the 2 cups water in one of the cans and swirl, dump it into each subsequent can swirling around to wash out the remaining tomato juice, then pour it into the pot.

When I make a double batch, sometimes I pulse the tomatoes once or twice in the blender rather than hand crush.

Try San Marzano tomatoes for this marinara.

If you’d like to simmer the sauce for 3 hours add 3 cups of water.

Use marinara sauce fresh or freeze in air tight containers or freezer zip bags.

Make a double the batch in a double large roaster or p0t.

To make Tomato Cream Sauce – Add 1/3 cup heavy cream to 4 cups of marinara sauce. Serve over pasta and garnish with chopped parsley. Also serve as Tomato Bisque.

Spicy Tomato Sauce – Add 1/3 cup jalapeño pickling juice to 4 cups of marinara sauce. Serve over pasta and garnish with pickled jalapeño slices. This also makes a spicy Tomato Soup served in small bowls.

Use as red sauce when layering lasagna.

Add browned meatballs into this marinara and simmer for 10 minutes then serve over spaghetti.

Dish Designer

  • Exchange pancetta for bacon.
  • For Tomato Cream Sauce, increase or decrease amount of heavy cream depending on richness desired or use half and half.
  • For Tomato Jalapeño Sauce, increase or decrease amount of pickling juice depending on spiciness desired. Make your own Jalapeño Peppers with sauce.

Inspiration – Ann Burrell’s Marinara Sauce (with my instructions and adaptations)
Cook with Sauces
Marinara Sauce
Written by
Photographs by Helen Horton
Updated: April 16, 2014

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Marinara and Friends Series

‘Great Sauces Transform Good Food into Gourmet’ 

First dish back on land

Ship parts: sail, boom, helm, hull, mast, stern, bulwark, crow’s nest, gangplank, rigging and wheelhouse. Then there’s the mariner. He steps aboard a ship for the adventure of his life. Upon returning from a seafaring experience sailors, swabbies, mates and windjammers crave landlubber dishes they’ve only been able to dream of while far away. Italian mariners feasted on red tomato sauce for their first meal back on solid ground, hence the name, marinara.

Simmer this sauce a minimum of

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2 hours and then try it in Lasagna and Meatballs. It’s a savory, stand alone sauce good enough to dress pasta, dip crispy ravioli, adorn pizza, layer thru lasagna, and soak into meatballs.


Marinara SauceWednesday, April 16, 2014 – Full bodied five ingredient Marinara Sauce that stands alone or can be used in other pasta dishes.



Baked LasagnaThursday, April 17, 2014 – Lasagna with marvelous marinara and homemade sausage for enhanced flavor.



Spaghetti and MeatballsFriday, April 18, 2014 – Tender meatballs in rich marinara sauce served on spaghetti.
Cook with Sauces
Marinara and Friends Series
Written by
Recipe Tester for The Washington Post
Photographs and Styling by Helen Horton
Updated: April 6, 2014

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Italian Spaghetti Ragu

Slow simmered thick Italian spaghetti ragu sauce.

No more meatballs makes ragu

I can remember a couple of times when I was young, mom made a pot of spaghetti sauce with meatballs.  I helped roll the meatballs and mom fried them off.  After the marinara sauce was simmering, she dropped them into the pot to infuse the sauce and seasonings into the meatballs.  We children, there are seven of us, had some lively discussions around the dinner table about how many meatballs we each got.  I don’t know if it was the ‘warm conversations’, the extra time or the extra dishes it took.  Maybe a combination of all three converted mom to cooking ragu on a regular basis.

Ragu alla Bolognese style sauce is slow simmered and contains ground meat, vegetables, herbs and tomatoes.  Back in the day I didn’t know it was called ragu or Bolognese but I prefer it.  I enjoy the meat infused with the marinara in every bite.  Double the recipe and squirrel away some ragu in zip pouches for easy dinner days.  It’s a great Saturday or Sunday dish to simmering away while busy with other activities.  Makes the whole house smell Italian.

Recipe: Italian Spaghetti Ragu

Prep Time: 15 Minutes | Cook Time: 75 Minutes | Yield: 12 Cups | Level: Easy


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 1/2 to 2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 1 med carrot, finely grated
  • 1/2 lb fresh chopped mushrooms, optional
  • 2 Tbsp dried sweet basil
  • 2 15 oz cans of diced tomatoes
  • 1 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 2 8 oz cans tomato sauce
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • spaghetti, cooked
  • Parmesan cheese, grated
  • parsley, chopped

1 In a large pot on medium heat, sauté onion in olive oil until transparent.  Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.

2 Crumble meat into the pot and brown.  Drain fat.

3 Add carrot and mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes.  Add basil and cook for 2 minutes.

4 Stir in diced, paste and sauce tomatoes, plus salt, bay, and oregano.  Simmer uncovered stirring occasionally for at least 1 hour or several hours as time permits.

5 Adjust salt.  Serve over pasta and garnish with cheese and parsley.

Carrot – Finely grated, the carrot adds natural sweetness, nutrition and is undetectable by picky eaters. Triple score.

Dish Designer

  • Exchange fresh mushrooms for 1 4-oz can of mushrooms but add with the tomatoes.
  • Make a double batch and stow away zipper packets of ragu for busy day meals.
  • Exchange spaghetti for tube type pasta such as rigatoni or penne.

Inspiration – Norma Horton, via an Italian friend
Cook with Sauces
Written by
Photographs by Helen Horton
Updated: May 16, 2012

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