Homemade marinara sauce is easier than you think! This version is made with rich red wine, juicy tomatoes, lots of garlic and fresh basil.
Have I told you guys the story of how I went vegetarian? No, I’m sure I haven’t. See, as I’m sure you know by now, I love, love, love to cook. This has been the case as long as I can recall. So when I was little, my favorite thing to do was to help mom in the kitchen. When I got to my tweenage years, I guess she recognized the advantages in this and started requesting my help with meal preparation. I was thrilled to be of service, except, I discovered, when that preparation involved any type of meat. I had never been big on meat to begin with, particularly red meat and pork, but I was generally okay with chicken and the like. It turned out that once I started preparing it myself, chicken was the absolute worst! I’d try to be helpful and remove the skin, as mom requested, and I’d end up having a total grossout fit. One time I found a vein. I think so anyway. Whatever it was, it wasn’t something I wanted to eat. Sadly, any of the meat based meals I prepared, I found myself unable to choke down when it came to dining. So finally I decided to be done with it all. My family was okay with this. I think my parents recognized that there was something more going on than just childhood finickyness, and given the fact that I’d gotten pretty good at meal preparation by that point, they figured I’d be all right fending for myself when necessary.
What does all this have to do with marinara sauce? Well, marinara sauce was one of those non-meat based meals that I occasionally had the pleasure of preparing during those pre-veggie years. I learned the basic how-to’s from my mom, and have gradually tweaked the recipe over the years, making it my own.
I made a big batch of this so that I could put to use some fresh basil, which is the one and only thing I’ve been able to successfully grow this summer (okay, maybe ever). I was actually a bit on the fence as to whether to post this. It just seems so basic. I mean, marinara sauce? Our grandmas were making this stuff billions of years ago. We live in the modern age of cauliflower alfredo, right? True, but I’ve noticed a definite lack of recipes for this stuff online, as well as a dependence on the jarred stuff. Grandma would have a fit! I do occasionally buy a jar, but only when I’m in a pinch, and the homemade variety has so many advantages:
- It’s easy. So, so, easy. A little chopping, sauteeing, toss in a pot, simmer. That’s it.
- Cheapness! All the ingredients are so cheap! Okay so there’s wine in there. But just a little. And you don’t have to use super expensive wine. You want something drinkable, but you really don’t need to break the bank. Even with the wine I promise this sauce will be more economical than jarred.
- It makes your house smell like an Italian villa in the summer. It’s so nice.
- It freezes. I like to make a big batch, use what I need, and freeze the rest. A couple of weeks later some night I’ll be like, “Hey, what’s for dinner?” Then, “Oh yeah! I’ve got frozen sauce! I can do so much with sauce!” Recipes forthcoming. I promise you I’ll get started this week!
- It’s insanely tastier than jarred sauce. Don’t take my word for that. Recall, it’s also cheap and easy, so you can make a batch and find out for yourself, with very little risk.
The red bell pepper gives this sauce an amazing sweetness. You could use a green pepper instead, and I have, but I don’t find the flavor to be as complementary. I add the fresh basil at the end of cooking, so as to not dull the flavor. If you store the sauce for a bit or eat it as leftovers, you might want to consider throwing in even more fresh basil when you serve it. Another trick: if you’re a garlic fiend, add an additional clove or two at the end of cooking, at the same time as the basil. Your sauce will have more of a raw garlic bite ;)
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 medium onion diced
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
- 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 1 tbsp. oregano
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup sliced fresh basil
- Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and sautee for about five minutes, until it begins to soften.
- Add pepper and continue to sautee for about another five minutes.
- Add garlic and continue to sautee until fragrant, about another thirty seconds.
- Add tomatoes, wine, oregano, sugar, salt and pepper. Simmer for at least thirty minutes, but preferably more. I like to let it go for an hour or more. Mom used to let it sit over a low burner for most of the day.
- Remove from heat when it gets close to serving time and stir in basil.