Your search for the classic Italian red pasta sauce aka marinara sauce ends here! This classic marinara sauce is a perfect all-rounder – toss your pasta or top your pizza with it and you are gonna love it!
If you were looking for that classic Italian red sauce, which is also known as marinara sauce, for your favorite pasta, then you have come to the right place! Today I am sharing my fail-proof recipe for making the classic marinara sauce and that too using fresh tomatoes! How cool is that? In almost all recipes, I have seen the marinara sauce being made with canned tomatoes. The most authentic marinara is made with the Italian plum tomatoes named ‘San Marzano’. But being not only far away from Italy but also in a place which does not export them, I had to take resort to my local produce which honestly did not disappoint me at all!
You can use any tomatoes for making the marinara sauce at home, just make sure to choose the bright red ones which are ripe with right amount of pulp and juice. This homemade marinara sauce will let you make all those Italian delicacies at home which you love to order at your favorite Italian restaurant, but without that hefty price tag! The best thing about this sauce is it freezes really well, for almost 6 months! Total win-win right? I bet it is!
Marinara sauce is a universal sauce which you can use to create many recipes. This is great with spaghetti and I am gonna share my favorite spaghetti marinara recipe very soon which I made using this sauce. It’s a great pizza sauce too! I really hated the bottled sauce which you can readily get in the supermarkets; I tried many brands but none of them could live up to my expectation, or to put it more correctly, to my taste buds. Since I have learned making it at home, I have never bought the bottled sauces again and I highly recommend you to make your own marinara sauce at home!
The steps of making the marinara sauce at home may seem a bit effort in the beginning, with all the blanching and peeling of tomatoes. But if you are into pastas and pizzas, then you can make a big batch and freeze it. Then you can use it as you need. Let me tell you the best way to freeze the marinara sauce. Once the sauce is completely cooled, pour it in an ice tray and put the tray in the freezer. Once set just transfer the frozen sauce cubes into a ziplock back and stash in the freezer and only take out as much as you need. If you have this sauce handy, you can whip up an exotic meal even on a busy weeknight and feel on top of the world! Enjoy!
- Tomatoes – 1 kg [You can replace this with canned tomatoes (chopped or whole) and skip the blanching process. Start directly from step 6]
- Onion – 1, medium, chopped finely
- Garlic – 4 to 5 cloves, minced
- Italian seasoning – 1 tsp
- Paprika – 1 tsp
- Sugar – 1 tsp
- Olive oil – 2 tbsp
- Salt to taste
- 1 large bowl full of ice cubes and water
- Tomato paste or puree (store-bought) - ¼ cup (optional)
- Boil a large pot of salted water. Keep a large bowl with water and lots of ice cube in it.
- Wash the tomatoes and make a crisscross cut (which looks like ‘X’) at the bottom of each. This will ensure easy peel off later.
- Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water and black them for 3 to 4 minutes. You will see that the skin has started to split at the cut edges.
- Fish out the blanched tomatoes using a slotted spoon and plunge them immediately into the ice water.
- When the tomatoes cool down, take them out and discard the water. Peel the skin off and remove the core of the stem. Chop the tomatoes roughly. You can discard even the seeds if there are too many.
- Heat a large pot (preferably a Dutch oven) and add the olive oil. Once the oil becomes warm, add the chopped onion and sauté until soft for about 6 to 8 minutes. You don’t need to brown them.
- Next add the minced garlic and sauté for half a minute until fragrant.
- Now add the chopped blanched tomatoes along with all the juices to the pot and bring them to boil over high heat.
- Add the sugar, salt, paprika and Italian seasoning and mix well. If you don’t have Italian seasoning, you can add ½ teaspoon each of dried oregano, dried parsley and dried basil.
- Add the tomato paste/puree if using at this point. I used the store bought puree as it adds a deep red color but this is totally optional!
- After the sauce starts to boil over high heat, lower the heat to minimum and let it simmer for about 30 minutes or until the sauce is reduced and thickened. As the sauce thickens, it starts to splatter a lot; so make sure to maintain a safe distance to avoid burning.
- If you want a smooth sauce, you can blend the sauce right in the cooking pot using a immersion blender. If you want a chunky sauce, then skip the blending step and let the tomatoes break on its own as they cook.
- Check and adjust the seasoning if necessary. When the sauce comes to your desired consistency, remove from heat and let it cool.
- Once completely cooled, put them in sterilized jars and refrigerate them. Use this delicious sauce with pastas, pizzas and more.
- Use up the marinara sauce within 7 days if refrigerated or you can freeze them for longer shelf life. Enjoy!