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’
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 stages 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!
1 of 3 part series ”Marinara and Friends”. Part 2 Lasagna and Part 3 Spaghetti and Meatballs. More on Marinara.
Recipe: Marinara Sauce
Active Time: 20 Minutes | Total Time: 2 Hours 20 Minutes | Yield: 12 Cups
1/4 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
1 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.
- 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
Written by Helen Horton
Photographs by Helen Horton
Updated: April 16, 2014