A really good homemade marinara is something that everyone should know how to cook. A few simple ingredients come together to make an Italian staple and this is our easy recipe that you will end up making over and over again.
This marinara is the base to so many of our recipes - it’s a staple in our kitchen. If we are making pizza, this goes on the base. Making a lasagna? This is the sauce! Most of the time we just stir it through some spaghetti for a really easy meal.
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I have actually been making versions of this recipe since way back in my student days, because it is so cheap. We have made a few changes to it since then, that make it a little less student budget friendly, but it tastes better for it. One of the main changes is to buy the best quality tinned tomatoes we can afford. It might be tempting to buy the cheapest, but they are so watery and you can really taste the difference. We also go for whole plum tinned tomatoes, and then break them up ourselves in the pan, as the ready chopped ones just seem to lose some flavour. Whilst we still use some dried herbs, we now use fresh herbs too. I don’t think I knew you could get herbs that didn’t come in a jar when I was a student!
One of the first changes I made when I was an unhealthy student that wanted to get healthy was to stop buying anything in a jar. Not only were those jarred sauces cutting in to my precious student budget, but they were loaded with salt, sugar and who knows what else. I didn’t bother to check the ingredients. Whilst pre-made sauces have come a long way and there are regulations around them meaning that they are not as unhealthy as they once were, homemade is always going to be best. When it comes to taste and also when it comes to being able to control exactly what it going in your food.
So many people have their own variations of a marinara and if there are any Italian grandmothers out there reading this, I hope this recipe doesn’t offend you! This is just how we love our marinara and whilst I do love spending time making a marinara with fresh tomatoes, we just don’t have the time very often, so we go with the good quality tinned variety instead.
Some people add capers and olives to theirs, others add spices and many add a glug of red wine. We have kept ours pretty simple and let the tomatoes, onion and garlic shine through with just some added flavour from herbs and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Because what are tomatoes without balsamic vinegar?!
Whilst it originated in Naples, Italy, marinara it loved all over the world and you would be surprised at the many different ways you can use it. It’s a base sauce that you can add so many different ingredients to, to make a different pasta sauce every time. Use this as a guide, adjust to suit your own tastes and perfect your very own marinara recipe that you can pass down the generations in your family. Isn’t that what cooking is all about?
How to make this easy Marinara:
- 4 Shallots, diced
- 3 Cloves of garlic, crushed
- 0.5 Bunch basil, chopped
- 2 Cans of whole plum tomatoes
- 2 tbsp Dried oregano
- 3 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
- 1 pinch Sea salt and black pepper
- Add a glug of olive oil to a large pan and add the shallots and garlic and cook on low for 4 minutes, until the shallots have softened.
- Put the cans of tomato in to the pan and using a wooden spoon, chop them up. Add the balsamic vinegar, oregano and salt and pepper and mix well.
- Simmer for 10 minutes and then stir in the chopped basil before serving with spaghetti.