Chef Notes: Fast Homemade Marinara Sauce

Chef Notes: Fast Homemade Marinara Sauce

I’m always looking for quick, easy, homemade dinners. Marinara sauce is one of my favorite go-to’s. In addition to serving it the tried and true way, over pasta, it can also be used as a sauce for vegetables, meats, and open faced sandwiches. The leftovers can be used as a base for soups and stews, an ingredient for meatballs or meatloaf, or as a dip or dressing. It’s so easy to make and it’s easy to make a lot of it. I usually make a big batch and freeze a couple of quarts for later. Keep in mind that, although delicious as is, this is a very basic recipe. Some people like to add additional herbs and spices or capers and artichokes or use this as a base for a meat sauce. You really can’t screw it up.

Olive oil

1 small onion, roughly chopped

2 large cloves garlic, smashed & roughly chopped

1 small carrot, finely grated with either a rasper or the fine side of a box grater

4-6 twigs of thyme, tied together with a bit of kitchen twine

½ c dry white wine

1 lg can whole tomatoes

6-8 fresh basil leaves, finely chiffonade (see below)

Kosher salt

Black pepper, freshly ground

In a medium sauce pan, sauté onion, garlic, carrot and thyme in olive oil over medium heat until lightly browned. Deglaze the pan with wine and reduce to au sec (almost dry). Add tomatoes. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. Remove thyme bundle. Use your immersion blender to blend to desired chunkiness. Stir in basil leaves.  Adjust seasoning.  If you don’t have an immersion blender you can just run it pulse it using your blender or food processor. Another option, if you really like a chunky sauce, is to just break up the whole tomatoes with your fingers.

If I’m making pasta, I’ll get my water started first and then make a little race for myself to have the sauce done by the time the pasta is cooked. I usually make it. The great thing about this sauce is that since you’re blending it up, you don’t have to worry about tiny little knife cuts. And if your kids are anything like mine, any chunks of tomato will be pushed to the side of the plate so the smoother the better for them.

Oh right, what the hell is a fine chiffonade? Stack your basil leaves and roll them up into a fairly tight cigar shape. Then slice very thinly from tip to tip. This is a method often used for broad leafed herbs like basil, sage, and mint.


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  1. jan Clements
    November 29, 14:08 Reply

    Great idea to add a grated carrot. It enhances the color and sneaks a nutritious vegetable into a dish that most children love.

  2. Robina
    December 02, 10:53 Reply

    What is the result without the white wine? I don’t have any on hand and wouldn’t really want to go buy a bottle just for the sauce as it would go to waste (yes, I did just say that – I don’t like dry wine).

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