Marinara Sauce- Oh I get it now!

Many of you probably have some version of Marinara Sauce. Some put onions. Some don’t. Oregano? Or no? It has taken me a long to to “get” making Marinara Sauce. What I finally “get” is that Marinara is a quick sauce, not cooked all day melding the flavors for that deep roasted flavor. No, it is very quick, so quick that the herbs are still very potent and fresh tasting. I use Pastene Kitchen Ready ground peeled tomatoes. I think they are the best for the job. My brother and I have 2 cases shipped to us regularly.

Remember the idea of a marinara is that you cook the herbs long enough to get the oils into the sauce and to heat the sauce, that is it. The sauce will taste fresh, sweet, and piquant. Try it when you need a quick meal.

Marinara Sauce
2 T. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
8-10 fresh basil leaves, whole
2 cloves garlic minced, I use 2 frozen garlic cubes from Trader Joe’s
1/4 cup finely minced fresh parsley
28 ounce can ground peeled tomatoes
Kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
1/4 -1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes, optional but good

In a skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil. Add and sauté basil, parsley, and red pepper flakes for 30-60 seconds. Add garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds, do not let brown. Add the tomatoes. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Simmer five minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve piping hot over pasta or with Stromboli. Also great on pizza. You can also add shrimp at the end and cook another 3 minutes or until the shrimp are done.

Note- Fresh herbs are the best choice for this type of sauce. If you purchase fresh herbs you can always freeze the leftovers whole or puree with a little water and freeze in ice cube trays or whatever size container you would like.

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Have a great weekend!


  1. Sara
    Posted February 6, 2009 at 10:22 AM | Permalink

    This looks like a great recipe. I generally use Giada’s tomato basil sauce, or I make a quick sauce by pureeing roasted tomatoes with some dried oregano and sea salt.

  2. Joan Nova
    Posted February 6, 2009 at 10:49 AM | Permalink

    I agree! There is no need to cook it to death. The technique of long slow cooking of pasta sauce should be reserved for those including meats, particularly when they’re on the bone.

  3. Dawn
    Posted February 6, 2009 at 11:16 AM | Permalink

    I love how many variations there are out there. And I love to experiment from time to time. But my old tried ‘n true is Mario Batali’s recipe for red sauce. To die for.

  4. Joie de vivre
    Posted February 6, 2009 at 1:04 PM | Permalink

    That is easy!

  5. Sabrina
    Posted February 6, 2009 at 1:10 PM | Permalink

    I never thought of grinding up herbs and freezing them in cubes. Thanks for the tip.

  6. Anonymous
    Posted February 6, 2009 at 1:41 PM | Permalink

    I also add about a teaspoon of sugar. I add sugar to all my red sauces. Ma

  7. mikky
    Posted February 6, 2009 at 2:35 PM | Permalink

    thanks for sharing… 🙂

  8. That Girl
    Posted February 6, 2009 at 2:56 PM | Permalink

    I dunno, there’s something I just love about my 30 minute marinara – just the anticipation of smelling it as it simmers!

  9. biz319
    Posted February 6, 2009 at 4:05 PM | Permalink

    Yippee! A marinara sauce with no onions! 😀

    Have a good weekend Robin Sue!

  10. Elra
    Posted February 7, 2009 at 12:10 AM | Permalink

    I always like such a classic and simple sauce.

  11. Grace
    Posted February 7, 2009 at 10:31 AM | Permalink

    truth be told, i’d probably take marinara sauce over all others–even alfredo. excellent post, robin sue!

  12. noble pig
    Posted February 8, 2009 at 1:22 PM | Permalink

    Wow, now I’m curious about the tomatoes. My son is such a picky eater and will only eat Marinara so I like to make a good one. I think I might try these. Thanks for the tip.

  13. Peter M
    Posted February 8, 2009 at 9:27 PM | Permalink

    R-Sue, your sauce is a good one…don’t sweat over which direction to go. Most Italians will agree that even they debate Marinara sauce to infinity.

  14. GFE--gluten free easily
    Posted February 9, 2009 at 10:13 PM | Permalink

    That’s a terrific looking sauce! I’m intrigued by those tomatoes. And, I didn’t even know about frozen garlic cubes … see what I am missing with nary a Trader Joes nearby.


  15. schvin
    Posted February 9, 2009 at 11:01 PM | Permalink

    sounds good! those tomatoes are delicious.

  16. Nicole
    Posted February 10, 2009 at 10:27 PM | Permalink

    Yours sounds similar to mine. Mine is never exactly the same though. I don’t measure and it kind of depends upon what I have on hand. It never fails that my husband says it isn’t right though. He eats very little in the way of variety. The pickiest eater EVER. But he loves spaghetti and marinara but apparently only his grandmother’s is great!

  17. Jennifer
    Posted February 27, 2009 at 2:41 PM | Permalink

    I’ve never tried making my pasta with fresh herbs. Yours looks amazing. I almost never buy sauce from a jar/can because its so expensive when you have a family! 1 jar is not enough anymore for my growing kids!

  18. Rachel
    Posted November 8, 2011 at 9:28 AM | Permalink

    I know I'm a couple years late on this post, but I tried your recipe last night and it was fabulous. You're right, the tomatoes are the rockstar of this recipe so it's so important to use a quality brand. Looking forward to using this recipe again and again!

  19. Robin Sue
    Posted November 8, 2011 at 10:19 AM | Permalink

    Rachel- Thanks for stopping back by and letting me know! Better late than never I say, so welcome!

  20. Mindy
    Posted January 17, 2012 at 7:39 PM | Permalink

    I like this recipe a lot. It leaves room for additions and is fast. Next time I just have to remember to make a double batch for freezing. Thanks!

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