Classic Marinara Sauce

23 Jan

Yay homemade sauce! So impressive.

Italy is pretty.

Italian food is one of my favorite cuisines to eat, mainly because it involves so much pasta and cheese and sauces and general deliciousness.  My aunt and uncle have a cottage in Tuscany, and up until a few years ago my cousin also had a small apartment in Siena, which is easily my favorite city in Italy, although admittedly I’m biased by all of my idyllic vacations spent walking around the city eating gelato and drinking Campari soda while sitting on the main piazza. It is pretty hard to find Italian food anywhere in the U.S. that is as simple and fresh as the rustic food you would find in Siena or the villages in Tuscany, but that certainly won’t stop me from eating as much of it as possibly.  Sadly, I’m not sure of many restaurants here that serve wild boar stew or black truffle bruschetta (at least for less than about 15 dollars a serving), but luckily there are many widely avaliable recipes for simple meat preparations and sauces. Sidenote: wild boar is seriously delicious, but not the most reassuring thing to hear sniffling around the grape vines after dark when you are sleeping in a garage-turned-bedroom 20 feet away.

Vegetable pizza. Slightly non-pizza shaped, don't judge.

This is a recipe for a classic tomato marinara sauce from Giada de Laurentiis’ cookbook Everyday Italian.  I made this the other day in preparation for making a vegetable lasagna from the same book, which I will post very soon. You need to set aside a bit of time to make this, but other than chopping the vegetables all you have to do is let the sauce reduce for a while as you go about your day (doing more productive things than I tend to on a weekend, I’m sure).  I recommend making this whole recipe, which makes 8 cups of sauce, as you can freeze half of it, and it keeps well in the fridge for a week or so.  Since this is so simple it is very versatile- you could use it just on pasta, in a lasagna, or as a pizza sauce.  It is more chunky than a traditional marinara you might find in a jar, but trust me, this makes it even better.  I’ve given recipes for the sauce, as well as a pizza I made recently using the leftovers I had in the fridge.

Marinara Sauce
From Everyday Italian by Giada de Laurentiis, makes 8 cups

Equipment: Large saucepan, knife, wooden spoon
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 small onions, finely chopped (or one large onion)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
2 32-oz cans crushed tomatoes (or use whole tomatoes and crush them with your hands before adding)
2 dried bay leaves

In a large pot, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper, to taste.

Vegetable Pizza
Serves 1-2

Equipment: Sheet pan, knife
8 oz pizza dough (this is one half a store-bought pizza dough, such as from Trader Joes)
1/2 to 1 cup marinara sauce (depending on how big the pizza turns out)
1 yellow squash or zucchini
2 oz sliced white mushrooms
About 1/4 of a 6 oz bag of baby spinach
Shredded Mozzarella cheese
Grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 450. If the dough has been in the fridge, leave it to rest at room temperature for about 20 minutes.  Chop the squash into thin rounds. Then spray the sheet pan with olive oil and stretch/roll the dough into a rectangular shape (it should be pretty thin). Lay the squash slices on the dough, followed by the mushrooms, and spread the spinach on top.  Top with a generous layer of mozzarella cheese, and grate a bit of Parmesan on top of that.  Cook at 450 for 10-15 minutes, until cheese is bubbling and crust is brown.


One Response to “Classic Marinara Sauce”


  1. Vegetable Lasagna « Ginger Spices - January 30, 2011

    […] is the lasagna I made with some of the marinara sauce that I made a few weeks ago.  I’ve been wanting to make some kind of lasagna or casserole […]

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