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Marinara Sauce

One of the basic sauces in Italian cooking is Marinara Sauce. I’ve used it with lots of dishes from appetizers like Fried Cheese with Marinara to the Spaghetti and Meatballs we serve at our meatball dinners. Every cook has their own way of making it and since there aren’t a lot of ingredients, many look very similar.

Well, here’s my recipe……

The recipe is written for a standard size can of tomatoes (28 ounces), however, I’m usually making for a fairly large number of people, so you’ll notice in the picture I’m using a large #10 can instead of the small can – I’m just scaling up the ingredients.

I am a big fan of the San Marzano tomato – this is a plum tomato grown in the San Marzano region in Southern Italy. This is around Mt. Vesuvius and has a volcanic soil. There are a number of brands – the big can is one of the more industrial producers and makes a great sauce. I’ll sometimes get one of the other producers (Like La Bella San Marzano) if I’m making a smaller amount and I’m using the 28 ounce cans. San Marzano tomatoes have gotten much easier to find locally – I’ve even found them in Kroger. The European Market will sometimes have the La Bella San Marzano brand when she can get it.

To get started, I chop the onions and drain the tomatoes. Don’t throw away the juice from the tomato can – I add that back in as I cook it. I like to start and break up the tomatoes. I’ll do that one of two ways. Sometimes I move the tomatoes to a bowl and squeeze and crush them by hand. This is great because I can catch any hard cores and remove them or any big pieces of skin. The down side is that they tend to squirt and you end up with tomato on your shirt. The other way I do it is to add the whole tomatoes to the pan when their time has come and use a potato masher to break up the tomatoes. Then I start to add back in the reserved tomato sauce from the can.

This sauce cooks for about 20 minutes once you add the tomatoes – no need for an all day event for this one. Some folks like to add some cream at the end to their sauce, I generally don’t, but feel free to add that if you like!.


1 can whole tomatoes (28 ounces)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion – chopped
2 cloves of garlic – minced (I generally use a garlic press instead of mincing)
1/4 cup white wine (Should be a dry wine)
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper (to taste)
heavy cream – Optional (up to about a 1/2 cup if you add)


Drain the canned tomatoes and save the juice.

In a sauce pan, heat the olive oil on medium high heat and sauté the onions until soft and starting to turn translucent. Reduce the heat to medium and add the minced garlic or press the garlic into the onions and cook until the onions are very soft. Add the white wine and the herbs.

Cook until the wine is almost evaporated.

Add the whole tomatoes to the sauce pan. Break up the tomatoes using a potato masher or something similar. Add some of the reserved juice to the pan and stir well.

Turn up the heat and bring the sauce to a simmer (Not a boil). Cook for about 20 minutes. If the sauce is too thick or dry add some more of the reserved tomato juice. Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper.

If the sauce is too liquidy, turn up the heat and boil off some of the water from the juice.

If you want to add the cream, stir in at the end of the cooking time.


Ingredients (Minus White Wine)

Chopped Onions

Draining Tomatoes

Cooking Onions

Added Garlic with Cooking Onions

White Wine and Herbs added to Onions

Cook until wine is almost evaporated

Adding Tomatoes

Crushing Tomatoes

Finished Marinara Sauce

Spaghetti and Meatballs with Marinara Sauce

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