Replace Bottled Sauce with 20 Minute Magnificent Marinara


Best2 copy.jpgWhile there are hundreds of amazing brands of pasta sauces on the market, I don’t buy bottled sauce anymore…period. Here’s why. This rich, thick, bubbly brew costs about $3.50-$4 a batch, possesses all of the freshness under the Tuscan sun and puts a smile on the face of everyone who consumes it. The Mmmms are infinite! Reasons enough?

This super easy, quick, mighty and bold tomato sauce is perfect over all shapes of pastas– a personal favorite is angel hair or thin spaghetti. It’s a wonderful pizza and dipping sauce as well. Serve over pasta with copious amounts of grated Parmesano Reggiano cheese, a side salad (I chose fresh sliced avocado & Roma tomatoes drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkling of pink Himalayan sea salt and fresh cracked pepper) and a fringe of sweet Sicilian sausage.

San Marzanos by nature are sweeter & milder

Marinara became a catchall term for tomato sauce in Italy because its ingredients are all plentiful in Campania, the area around Naples that sent so many families to the United States in the last century. Italian-American cooks treated it as a multifunctional ingredient: a starting point for other sauces, the base of soups, the acid that breaks down meat in stews. Generally speaking, it consists of olive oil, ripe tomatoes, a substantial amount of garlic, a pinch of dried pepper flakes and dried oregano and or, fresh basil. The list of things that do not belong in marinara is much longer: no onions, no wine, no meatballs, no sugar no anchovies, no tomato paste and no butter. Shhh, I cheat and use a sprinkling of sugar, depending upon the season of the San Marzanos.

San Marzano tomatoes are an essential key ingredient for this quick delicious sauce; they are mild, smooth, slightly less acidic and provide the basis of balance when blended with the 2 sweet, yet pungent herbs in this recipe.

SM Tomatoes


  • 1 28-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes (crushed work nice as well)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 7 garlic cloves, peeled and slivered or minced
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sugar (shhhhh…this is optional, but recommended)😉
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsps or more kosher salt; to taste
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 3 large fresh basil sprigs, and  1/2 tsp dried oregano or 1 tsp dried Italian seasoning or more to taste.
    For variations, I experiment with different herbs: rosemary, thyme, mint and even a bit of lavender…


    • Pour tomatoes into a large bowl and crush with your hands. Pour 1 cup water into can and splash around to get tomato juices. Reserve.
    • In a large skillet over medium heat, heat  oil. When it is hot, add garlic and pepper flakes
    • As soon as garlic is sizzling (do not brown it imparts bitterness), add tomatoes, reserved tomato water, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, oregano and salt. Stir.
    • Place basil sprigs, including stems, on the surface and allow to wilt, then submerge in sauce. Simmer until thickened and oil on surface is a deep orange, about 15 minutes.
    • Taste sauce after 10 minutes of simmering, adding more salt and oregano as needed. Tell, whomever receives the basil to make a wish because it will bring them good luck

11 Comments Add yours

  1. Sounds delicious!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Lynn!! Even my Italian hubby says it’s one of the best 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Will have to try it!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Osyth says:

    I can tell this is a winner. I’m a make it myself girl but i am interested in the specific brand of tomotoes (on the list for this week), the worcestershire sauce (I use it a lot but have never thought to put it in a marinara sauce) and the particular blend of herbs you add. The sugar, in my opinion is compulsary but I would rather you didn’t share that fact since we wouldn’t want my halo to tarnish un-necessarily 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Osyth! Worcestershire imparts the slow simmered taste–who’d a thunk it?? My go to brand is Lea & Perrins. As for the San Marzanos–there are so many good brands out there that it’s difficult to choose just one, but Cento is very nice. My favorite is a little known brand San Carmelita, which I always snatch up quickly whenever it crosses my path. As for herbs & spices, hands down I choose & they are shipped directly to my front door. That is if I gather them up before the wildlife sniffs them out 🙂 Ahh, the perils of living in the forest. A small price to pay until I want to make a pasta! ♥

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Osyth says: duly noted! Lea and perrins is the only Worcestershire sauce according to any English person and I have noted the tomatoes too in case they cross my path. Your note about the forest now has me thinking of you as Snow White … whistle while you work 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh! I forgot to make mention that I have 7 impish helpers, varying in personalities, that help me while I cook! lol! ♥

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow Lana, what a wonderful recipe you have shared with us! I’m going to have to try this one out soon. My hubby insists his spaghetti sauce is the best with all his meat, onions, and mushrooms in it, but I can wow him I bet with this simple marinara. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is a good one, Kathryn…standalone. However, sometimes I add sausage, mushrooms, eggplant on & on…always a winner! xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Antonia says:

    Looks delicious Lana! So interesting about marina!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Antonia! It’s very simple to put together & the flavors are far superior to most bottled sauces 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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