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February 24, 2015

Old-Fashioned Marinara Sauce

When I was a kid one of my favorite meals was my mother’s spaghetti with home made marinara sauce. I often took pride in knowing that her recipe was passed down from generation to generation, but I never knew exactly what was in the sauce.

I hounded my mother for her recipe for years but unfortunately I never got it before she passed away.  After years of researching and trial and error, I’ve managed to re-construct her recipe as close as I could get it.

The Prep

Fresh vs Dry Spices

My intention on this recipe is to make it as fool proof as possible while staying true to the authenticity of a well made marinara sauce. I love using fresh oregano and basil in my marinara, it gives it a different flavor that I personally love. They issue i run into is that with the basil, it will turn the sauce dark if you throw it in to early

If you feel comfortable with using fresh fresh oregano and basil by all means be my guest!IF you do use fresh I would suggest putting them in in the last hour of simmering. It doesn’t take long for the flavors to incorporate into the sauce and if you cook them for too long it will give your sauce a dark color

Finely chop everything

The point of the carrots, onion and garlic is to break down into the sauce, not play a major role in the sauce. chopping them as fine as possible allows this to happen.

 

Cooking

STIR! STIR! STIR!

Ever seen the movie Goodfellas? Well he wasn’t kidding about keep an eye on the sauce! Make sure you stir the sauce every 15-20 minutes so that the sauce doesn’t stick to the pot and start burning.

sauce

You’ll ruin the whole pot if you don’t stir. There will be bits of burnt sauce floating around in the sauce and will make it bitter.

 This is usually a good time to get the kids involved! It’ll become a tradition and they’ll love that they helped with dinner!

Thickening up

Sometimes depending on the brand of tomatoes you use you’re sauce may be to thing towards the end. I will keep a can 8 oz can of tomato paste on hand and in the the last hour, dump the tomato paste into the sauce, this will thicken it up.

To Blend or not to blend…

You may notice that you’re marinara appears a bit “chunky” if you like the texture then leave as is. Depending how i’m serving it i sometimes take the serving for that night and put it in a blender for a bout 30 seconds to get a smooth texture. For a simple spaghetti sauce I like to blend it. If i’m using it in other dishes or as a dipping sauce I’ll leave it as is.  Here’s a close up of the sauce blended.. for science.

Storage

Unless you’re serving a family of 12 there’s no way you’re going to use all this sauce in one sitting. Get some containers and store about 2 cups of the sauce in each container. It keeps for about 6 months in the freezer. I’ll be posting other ways to use the sauce soon!

Enough Talk. More Rock.

On To The Recipe

Old-Fashioned Marinara Sauce
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Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Print Recipe
Marinara sauce just the way your Italian mother you never had made it! Crushed tomatoes, basil oregano garlic, great for dipping or spaghetti!
Servings Prep Time
8 People 25 Minutes
Cook Time
5-6 Hours
Servings Prep Time
8 People 25 Minutes
Cook Time
5-6 Hours
Old-Fashioned Marinara Sauce
Yum
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
Marinara sauce just the way your Italian mother you never had made it! Crushed tomatoes, basil oregano garlic, great for dipping or spaghetti!
Servings Prep Time
8 People 25 Minutes
Cook Time
5-6 Hours
Servings Prep Time
8 People 25 Minutes
Cook Time
5-6 Hours
Ingredients
Servings: Units:
People
Instructions
  1. Start by getting the onions chopped as small as you can get them by hand. We want them small enough so the picky eaters won't notice that there are onions in the sauce.
  2. Next mince your garlic. I've found a trick to this by adding a little table salt while mincing, then flattening it out, mincing again, until its at the consistency that i'm happy with.
  3. Chop the carrots. I normally throw in a food processor (in my case a Ninja) since it's not as critical if I overdue them, and of course it saves some time! Now we have all the veggies prepped!
  4. Add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a sauce pot, should be about 2 tbsp, maybe 3. Once it's hot throw the onions in and let them cook down for about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the carrots and garlic and cook them down for about another 2 minutes. It should look like this when done.
  6. Now you can add the cans of crushed tomatoes. Give it a stir for about 30 seconds so the carrot and onion mixture is incorporated into the sauce
  7. Since we're going to cook this slowly, Add water in order to allow the ingredients marry together without the sauce turning into a nasty paste!
  8. Grab your dry ingredients...
  9. ...toss into the sauce.
  10. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. You're going to cook this slowly for about 4-6 hours.
  11. REMEMBER TO STIR!
  12. Remember to taste the sauce about 2-3 hours into simmering, you may need to add a little more salt or basil and oregano. Remember to do this little by little. It's easer to add more than it is to take away!
  13. OPTIONAL: When you're ready to serve take a ladle and pour a few ladle full helpings into a blender and mix together. After the blender I poured it into a pan and finished it for another 20 minutes with a serving of mushrooms!
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Derek Campanile
Derek Campanile
I'm an IT professional by day. Home cook for the family by night. Follow my blog for easy to make recipes, how-to's and ideas to gather the family at the dinner table!
  • Matty Gross

    Go check out my good friend a hard working man a great dad and a amazing chef …Dont tell me you dont have time to cook a good meal for your family cause you work to much. If he can do it anyone can. Check out his website and follow him on instagram. #dadwithapan

  • kdog

    Mmmm Mmmmm Mmmmm …and I throw in Italian sausage too

  • Chicory

    Yum! Marinara sauce is such a classic!

  • I love your instructions and the step-by-step photos. As to watch the sauce and stir it – no better advice for perfect sauce. You just forgot one crucial item, as least for me – wear an apron! When red sauce “spits” out of the pot, you won’t get it off a white shirt easily!

    • Thanks Laura! Definitely need an apron if you’re wearing a white shirt! lol