Tag Archives: tomato sauce

Weeknight Staple: Basic Marinara

30 Mar

by Non-Gourmet J

I tend to get really busy during the week and don’t always feel up to making involved dinners. One tactic I use to combat eating out regularly or relying on pre-prepared, processed food, is to make things on Sunday that I can use throughout the week. My go-to for this is marinara. I like to make huge batches of this and use it as a spaghetti sauce, a filling for calzones, a dip for Stromboli, or a base for a homemade pizza.  When I really need some comfort food, I’ll add cream and vodka to it for a fancy-feeling mid-week pasta. In the summer, I roast my own tomatoes instead of using cans.


  • 3-4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp. anchovy paste (optional, but be daring and try it – it doesn’t taste fishy at all and really adds depth to this sauce)
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 3-4 tbsp. Italian seasoning (or basil, oregano, thyme, whatever combination Italian seasonings you prefer)
  • 1-2 tbsp. fennel (I prefer to buy whole fennel seeds and crush them using a mortar & pestle)

  • 1 tbsp. crushed red pepper (more or less depending on your heat tolerance)
  • 1 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • Few glugs of good red wine (Optional, but I really like the flavor it adds. Important – The flavor will intensify when you cook, so always cook with a wine you like enough to drink!)
  • Salt & pepper to taste


Sauté onions in olive oil until translucent. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Stir in anchovy paste (if using).

Add remainder of ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally.

 Taste halfway through cooking and adjust seasonings as necessary. If you don’t like a chunky sauce, or will be using this as a dipping sauce or base for a pizza, use an immersion blender at the very end. You can also transfer to a blender if you do not have an immersion blender. This recipe will last all week in the fridge, but can be kept frozen for several months.

Thanks for teaching us the basics J and don’t forget you read about it on Green Gourmets!