My Recipe Box

Classic Marinara


Yields 1 quart.

  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 38

A stash of marinara in the freezer means you can produce a range of sauces and soups in minutes. Use on pasta, polenta, and pizza; season and bind casseroles and baked pasta dishes; pour over baked chicken or fish; thin with stock and use as a braising liquid for meatballs, stews, and pot roasts; use as a soup base for vegetable and meat soups.

  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 3 lb. fresh plum tomatoes, peeled and puréed (about 6 cups purée) or two 28-oz. cans crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • Salt
  • 3 Tbs. minced fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
  • Freshly ground black pepper

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion until it begins to wilt, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté just until fragrant. Stir in the wine. Add the tomatoes, oregano, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, and cook until reduced by at least one-third, about 2 hours. Stir occasionally, taking care that the sauce never boils hard. Stir in the basil and parsley. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.


Puttanesca Sauce: Make the basic recipe. Heat 3 Tbs. olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add 5 chopped anchovy fillets and cook, stirring, until they begin to dissolve. Add the basic sauce and bring to a simmer. Stir in 1/3 cup drained capers, 1/2 cup pitted and chopped black olives, and 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes or to taste.

Porcini Sauce: Make the basic recipe. Soak 2 oz. dried porcini mushrooms in hot water to cover until soft, about 25 minutes. Drain and reserve 1/3 cup of the soaking liquid. Squeeze the mushrooms dry, chop them, and add them to the basic sauce. Strain the reserved porcini soaking liquid though a coffee filter and add it to the sauce. Simmer until thick and not at all watery, 15 to 25 minutes.

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