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A delicious, easy marinara sauce recipe to twirl your favourite pasta in, with goodness of tomatoes and oodles of flavour. Make this in advance and change to arabbiata or putanesca sauce as per your convenience. Just add cooked pasta in for a quick meal fix.
Ever since my Italy trip earlier this year, I’ve been OD’ing on pasta. I kid you not – I make pasta so frequently I’m wondering if it’s even economical to keep on using store-bought pasta any longer, and if I should seriously consider investing in a pasta machine.
But even more than that, I’m over the moon about how flavorful and delicious my marinara sauce recipe is! I’ve now made it a zillion times, and each time it’s just…sheer perfection!
My love for tomato base sauces is somewhat new – given how frequently I make it now, you couldn’t tell that I used to despise it once upon a time. That could be partly because the first few places I ever ordered red sauce pasta at, the dish used to turn up, slathered in cheap tomato ketchup (am I the only one who hates tomato ketchup :D), watered down or altered with processed cheese. My perception changed once I tasted authentic arrabbiata sauce at an authentic Italian restaurant in Vizag, and thereon began my efforts to develop liking for this deeply flavoured fruit, aka tomato.
When in Rome..
My trip to Italy was a gastronomic fest on a whole different level, are there are just SO MANY sauce bases for pasta one could devour here. However, the most memorable ones are the Spaghetti Puttanesca at L’Archetto, a spaghetteria quietly tucked away in lanes of Rome – if you’re ever visiting Rome, you’ll be visiting the Trevi Fountain for sure, and this rustic eatery with its archaic den-style seating is a must-visit. The spaghetti dish itself was surprisingly underpriced at €7, even though it was enough for 2 people and the most delicious pasta I’ve ever tasted. The flavorful san marzano tomatoes, Not surprisingly, I visited them a second time to savor the same dish, and even had great conversations with an Australian couple, spanning 3 hours!
Why Marinara Sauce?
The answer is: ‘cuz it’s so easy! Marinara sauce can be converted to arabbiatta or puttanesca with great ease! This can be made well in advance and stored in the refrigerator up to a week, in which case all you need to do is heat the sauce on stove and add in some pasta to fix yourself a hot, delicious, homemade meal in a jiffy. What is more, this sauce is completely vegan and vegetarian, unless you count in the puttanesca variation which includes anchovies.
So, this healthy marinara sauce version of mine has the following elements:
We slow roast the tomatoes and then slow-simmer the resulting puree, to render an oh-so-delicious sauce. Cooking tomatoes makes more nutrients available like caretonoids, lycopene, lutein etc, which play a significant role in preventing cancer and general well-being. The high fiber, potassium and Vitamin C content in tomatoes can reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems, as well as regularize insulin levels for diabetic patients.
Can any dish ever feel complete without addition of garlic? Lol, if it isn’t already obvious, I love garlic! However, it’s possible for you to modify the amount of garlic according to your preference. Garlic boasts of several proven health benefits – some of which include prevention against heart conditions, immunity-boosting properties, reduced risk of mental diseases etc.
Rich in sulphides, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, onions play an important role in regulating blood pressure, preventing blood clots and building and maintaining cell structure with efficient protein synthesis.
It’s not just good for the health, but flavorful too! A sufficient amount of studies point out the benefits of olive oil, like improved heart health, reduced risk of cardiac stroke, etc. Rich in monounsaturated fats, olive oil is also a great choice for cooking, thanks to its high resistance to heat. Nevertheless, it’s always a good idea to measure and track the amount of oil you use on a daily basis.
Oregano – I know, the original sauce version contains basil. I like to add in some oregano instead, mainly because I dig the combination of tomatoes and oregano.
Making Arrabbiata sauce from Marinara
Easy! Arrabbiata means ‘angry’ in Italian, and a good arrabbiata is known from its heat content. I use a combination of chili flakes and bird’s eye chilies of Indian origin, for the reason that these create the desired amount of heat I like. Furthermore, bird’s eye chili is what gives the sauce a much needed oomph and adds an extra depth to the flavors. Try it to believe it!
While simmering the chilies in marinara sauce adds to the flavors, you could simply sprinkle the chilies on top of the prepared pasta dish too. The classic arabbiata includes just the 4 ingredients, namely, tomatoes, olive oil, garlic and red chili peppers. However, the modern version often includes onions and oregano or basil, for extra flavor punch.
Ways to Use Marinara Sauce
You assumed this chunky, flavorful sauce could just be used for tossing pasta in, right? Well, a good marinara sauce can be used in so many versatile ways!
Pasta: Like I said, marinara and pasta is a marriage made in heaven! Add some chili flakes to fashion an arrabbiata sauce from this base. For something more flavorful and interesting, spoon in some capers, black olives and anchovies to make a delicious puttanesca sauce base. Toss in any form of pasta or gnocchi to enjoy!
Pizza: Since this sauce is reasonably thick and utterly delicious, feel free to spread it as the base on pizzas and other flatbreads.
Sandwiches and Subs: Likewise, it forms the perfect sauce for sandwiches, compliments all kinds of fillings, and is easy to make.
Dip sauce: Short of salsa sauce? Marinara sauce recipe to your rescue – feel free to use as a dip sauce for nachos, fries or crackers!
What are we waiting for, then? Let’s get to the recipe already!
Looking for more pasta recipes? Try my
- Spinach Whole-Wheat Pasta in Avocado Mushroom Sauce
- Cacio e Pepe with Nutritional Yeast,
- Zoodles with Spinach Pistachio Pesto Sauce and Nutritional Yeast,
- Whole Wheat Spaghetti in Homemade Pesto Sauce
..and please do let me know how you liked these!
RECIPE: EASY MARINARA SAUCE
Servings – 10
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hr 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hr 30 minutes
- 1kg tomatoes (you can use 3 cups or 2 28oz. tomato paste)
- 1 onion, diced
- 8-10 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1-2 bay leaves
- Sea salt, to taste
- 2 sprigs oregano (you can substitute with 1 tbsp dried oregano flakes)
First, roast the tomatoes in an oven for 40 minutes at 200°C or 392°F. Remove and allow to cool down.
Next, pulse the tomatoes in a blender, to a chunky consistency.
Meanwhile, pour olive oil in a deep pan. Add minced garlic and heat the oil on medium flame. This helps infuse the garlic flavor into the oil early on.
Add diced onion with sea salt and allow to fry, stirring continuously so it doesn’t burn.
Pour the tomato chunks into the pan. Add bay leaves, oregano and allow to simmer on a low flame for 40 minutes. Stir frequently so as to not allow the tomatoes to stick to the bottom of the pan.
Once the sauce has reduced, discard the bay leaves. Remove from the flame and allow to cool.
Add immediately to pasta or pizza or transfer into an airtight jar and store in refrigerator for up to 1 week.
I’d love to hear how this recipe turned out for you, if you tried it. Do post a pic on Instagram and tag #fitfoodiediary in the picture!
Q: Can I make marinara sauce ahead of time and refrigerate it?
A: Yes! Marinara sauce can be made in advance and refrigerated for up to a week. Heat the sauce when you wish to use it and add cooked pasta in.
Q: Can I use tinned tomatoes/ tomato puree for this sauce?
A: Yes. Truth be told, several expert chefs use tinned tomatoes or even passata for making marinara, instead of fresh tomatoes.
Q: This marinara sauce is a bit too thick for my liking. Can I thin out?
A: Of course! In fact, the authentic Italian marinara recipe is a lot thinner than this version, too. You can add ¼- ½ cup of the starchy water from cooking pasta to this sauce, to thin it out to a consistency of your liking.
Easy Marinara Sauce
- 1 kg tomatoes you can use 3 cups or 2 28oz. tomato paste
- 1 onion diced
- 8-10 garlic cloves minced
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1-2 bay leaves
- Sea salt to taste
- 2 sprigs oregano you can substitute with 1 tbsp dried oregano flakes
- Roast the tomatoes in an oven for 40 minutes at 200°C or 392°F. Remove and allow to cool down.
- Pulse the tomatoes in a blender, to a chunky consistency.
- Pour olive oil in a deep pan. Add minced garlic and heat the oil on medium flame. This helps infuse the garlic flavor into the oil early on.
- Add diced onion with sea salt and allow to fry, stirring continuously so it doesn’t burn.
- Pour the tomato chunks into the pan. Add bay leaves, oregano and allow to simmer on a low flame for 40 minutes. Stir frequently so as to not allow the tomatoes to stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Once the sauce has reduced, discard the bay leaves. Remove from the flame and allow to cool.
- Add immediately to pasta or pizza or transfer into an airtight jar and store in refrigerator for up to 1 week.