How To Make Marinara Sauce (video)

This video by the folks at Colavita demonstrates how to make marinara sauce with extra virgin olive oil, garlic, onions, San Marzano plum tomatoes, kosher salt, fresh-ground pepper and fresh basil. Excellent presentation with lots of detail and information (the origin of the name, how to sweat the onions, why you should cut out the center of the garlic, how long to cook it, how to freeze it, etc.). This classic homemade tomato sauce should be in everyone's pasta repertoire!

Note: San Marzano is a denomination of tomato (like a wine denomination) that is grown in a particular region of Italy, not a brand.


SEE ALSO: How to Make Authentic Tomato Sauce 2 Ways (video) for a in depth explanation of why Italian San Marzano tomatoes are best for sauce.

Chef Ken Arnone explains that Marinara sauce translates to sauce made in the style of the mariner (marinaro) or sailor. The first tomatoes were brought by boat to Naples, Italy in the 16th century and this is where the sauce has its origins. A thick, red tomato sauce, it can be served on its own or used as a base for other recipes. As always, there are regional differences found throughout Italy. Some variations of marinara include seafood but the version explained in this video is just a basic tomato sauce.


extra virgin olive oil (Colavita brand recommended)
1/2 medium onion (white, yellow or sweet)
2 cloves garlic (sliced, chopped or crushed be removed after it has flavored the sauce)

TIP: It is important to remove the center vein in the garlic if it has started to germinate or grow. This is a living, growing part of the plant and can potentially cause indigestion if eaten. Just use a small, sharp knife and cut out the center portion.

2 (28oz. each) cans San Marzano plum tomatoes (whole, chopped or crushed or one of each)
kosher salt or sea salt (for purity and flavor)
fresh ground black pepper
fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
red pepper flakes (optional)


Use a large, deep pot that heats evenly. Add enough extra virgin olive oil to the cold pot to generously coat the bottom. Turn heat to medium.

TIP: Don't add extra virgin olive oil to a hot pot as that will cause the oil to break down.

Add the chopped onion to the oil and cook gently to "sweat" them but do not allow them to turn color.

TIP: Add the lid back on for a minute or two. This will add a bit of steam to the process and prevent the onions from turning color. Remove the lid after a few minutes to check for doneness. They should be translucent.

Add the garlic, mix and cook until aromatic, with a slight brown on the edges. 1-2 minutes.

Add the 2 cans of the San Marzano tomatoes with their liquid.

TIP: Always pour away from you to avoid splattering the hot oil.

Turn the heat up and bring the sauce to a gentle simmer.

Add the kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Stir with a rubber spatula, scraping down the edges of the pot.

Cook for about 25-35 minutes, stirring and scraping the edges occasionally. Check the flavor as it cooks to check the sweetness. As it cooks, the acidity will reduce. (you can add a bit of sugar now or saute a chopped carrot with the onions if you prefer a sweeter sauce.)

Just before the sauce is done, (last 5 minutes) tear the fresh basil gently (rough handling turns the basil black) or roll the leaves together and chiffonade into narrow ribbons with a very sharp knife. Add to the sauce. You can also add fresh basil to the pasta once the sauce has been added.

Sauce can be refrigerated for 4-5 days, jarred or frozen in ziplock bags for up to 3 months.

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