I’m on a mission…to make the most perfect, most amazing, rich marinara sauce. I love how easy it is to prepare this on the weekend and use it all week long (or longer) to toss with pasta, smother as a pizza base, and add sausage or beef for a meat sauce. But, making a delicious marinara is actually harder than it sounds.
So, as with all the recipes I’m trying to perfect, I took to the internets and studied, studied, studied. Seriously, I read so many different marinara recipes. From Food Network superstars like Giada and Ina to former chef turned bloggers, I took in everything I possibly could from so many different cooks. Then, I take my favorite parts from each and give it a go.
I test, test, test and voila…my Most Amazing Marinara Sauce. Seriously, this is cookbook worthy!
So, first some tips ’cause it’s not all about what’s in it and the directions. There’s actually quite a bit of finesse that goes into this.
First, take the time to finely dice all your veggies. It makes a big difference as to how they caramelize, soften, and give off the right amount of flavor.
Second, don’t just dump everything in and hope for the best. Add each layer of flavor individually and let those flavors develop and marry with the other ingredients before moving on.
Use a large pot from the beginning. Give the ingredients plenty of room to move and breathe.
Don’t go far. Tend to the sauce every step of the way moving it around every minute or so. This, again, is just to show it some love. It’ll love you back…promise!
Finally, low and slow is the name of the game. Don’t expect that you can just heat this through and have a sauce. You really need to devote several hours to this.
OK, here you go…good luck!
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp dried herbs (basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, etc)* mixed, total
1/2 cup red wine
2 tbsp sugar
1 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes
1 (6-ounce) tomato paste
Warm the olive oil over medium heat. Cook onions for at least 10 minutes until they are translucent and beginning to caramelize and turn golden yellow. (this is a critical step…let the sugars develop in the onions!) Add garlic and simply heat through. (garlic burns easily, so add it later and don’t let it go too long before moving to the next steps) Add the celery and carrots and cook until softened. This should take another 10 minutes. Make a well in the middle of the veggies and add the spices. With the back of your wooden spoon, mash the spices and sort of grind them up on the bottom of the pan. (this will develop the oils and bring out the flavor of the spices before you mix them with the veggies. you’ll smell it instantly!) Combine the spices and veggies and let this cook for about a minute. Add wine and cook for 2 minutes. Most of the liquid will evaporate and the mixture will start to thicken. Add the tomato paste and let it heat through. (you need to cook out some of the stale, canned flavor of the paste.) Add the sugar and let it dissolve completely in the mixture for about a minute. Finally, add in the rest of the tomatoes and their juices. Keep the temperature at medium until the sauce begins to bubble. Then turn to low and let it simmer for anywhere from 2 hours to 5 hours depending on the heat and how much time you have.
What you’ll have at that point is a sauce where most of the liquid has cooked out, the tomatoes have broken down, and the other goodies have essentially melted into the whole thing. AMAZING!