When working on this marinara recipe, I realized I had probably never made marinara the same way twice. I've done versions that are no more than tomatoes, garlic, and onion; others have me scouring the cupboards for every ingredient I can possibly find to throw in and see what cooks up.
This isn't a "master recipe" for marinara since the sauce can be so varied, but what I came up with here has a great balance. The tomatoes stay dominant but other flavors—small amounts of carrot, celery, as well as the ubiquitous onion and garlic—add nice undertones, as do the additional seasonings like crushed red pepper, oregano, and basil. The red pepper offers just the slightest kick, a fitting flavor to pair with the acidity of the tomatoes.
I was incredibly happy with this sauce, though it'll be hard to break my habit of marinara sauces being a creation of the moment.
About the author: Joshua Bousel brings you new, tasty condiment each Wednesday and a recipe for weekend grilling every Friday. He also writes about grilling and barbecue on his blog The Meatwave whenever he can be pulled away from his grill.
- Yield:Makes about 1 1/2 quarts
- Active time: 30 minutes
- Total time:60 minutes
- 2 28-oz cans good quality whole tomatoes, crushed by hand
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 small carrot, finely shredded
- 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
- 4 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
Heat oil in a medium sauce pan until shimmering. Add onions and cook until softened, but not browned, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add in carrot and celery and cook until softened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add in tomatoes, oregano, and crushed red pepper, stir to combine, and bring to boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat, stir in basil, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Use immediately or let cool to room temperature and store in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to a week, or freeze up to 6 months.