Classic Marinara Sauce

Click for larger view

Homemade marinara is almost as fast and tastes immeasurably better than even the best supermarket sauce — and it's made with basic pantry ingredients. Our friend Beverley Little taught us this one. The bright red, lively-tasting sauce,  is made just as it is in the south of Italy (no butter, no onions). Use a skillet instead a saucepan: the water evaporates quickly, so the tomatoes are just cooked through as the sauce becomes thick


MAKES: 4 Servings
PREP/COOK TIME: 25 minutes

  • 1 28-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes, certified D.O.P. if possible

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 7 garlic cloves(or more to taste), peeled and slivered

  • Small dried whole chile, or pinch crushed red pepper flakes

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 large fresh basil sprig, or 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, more to taste


  1. Pour tomatoes into a large bowl and crush with your hands. Pour 1 cup water into can and slosh it around to get tomato juices. Reserve.

  2. In a large skillet (do not use a deep pot) over medium heat, heat the oil. When it is hot, add garlic.

  3. As soon as garlic is sizzling (do not let it brown), add the tomatoes, then the reserved tomato water. Add whole chile or red pepper flakes, oregano (if using) and salt. Stir.

  4. Place basil sprig, including stem, on the surface (like a flower). Let it wilt, then submerge in sauce. Simmer sauce until thickened and oil on surface is a deep orange, about 15 minutes. (If using oregano, taste sauce after 10 minutes of simmering, adding more salt and oregano as needed.) Discard basil and chile (if using).

Storage Keeps for 4 to 5 days in the refrigerator. 

Also adapted from one of Julia Moskin's recipes.


Click for larger view