How To Make The Perfect: Marinara Sauce

Categories: Recipes

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Photos by Katharine Shilcutt
​If you're looking for an authentic marinara sauce recipe, or one that only requires a few minutes of your time, you should probably stop reading right now. The following recipe is neither authentic nor is it a time-saver. It is, however, very simple to cook, uses ingredients that are (most likely) already in your pantry, nutritious and -- most importantly -- delicious. Over the course of an afternoon, it will fill your house with the rich scent of simmering tomatoes and garlic and will fill the bellies of a hungry horde later on.

The most important thing to note about this marinara sauce is that it is vegetable intensive. We once had a boss who would request this sauce on a routine basis, as it was the only way her children would eat their veggies. We're willing to bet this subterfuge will work on other vegetable-averse children and adults alike. Served over a tangle of whole wheat pasta and with a glass of wine (the same wine you used in the sauce, ideally), it's a healthy meal that doesn't taste like rabbit food. And since there are already plenty of veggies in the sauce, it's easy to slip more in at your discretion (we like zucchini, yellow squash and thick strips of sauteed red bell peppers).

And although the recipe does require simmering for a few hours, that's just a few hours that you can spend on a cold, rainy afternoon -- like the ones that are predicted for this coming winter -- basking in the scent of the bright, earthy sauce and enjoying some quality time at home.

The Perfect Marinara Sauce

  • 1 c. olive oil
  • 2 T. butter
  • 1 tsp. garlic, chopped
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 1 bag carrots, chopped
  • 1 bag celery, chopped
  • 2 cans peeled tomatoes
  • 2 T. tomato paste
  • 1/2 c. red wine
  • 2 T. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T. tarragon vinegar
  • 1/2 T. oregano
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 6 fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 c. cream
  • Kosher salt and pepper

Start with a large, thick bottomed pot, preferably a Dutch oven. Get the pot hot over medium-high heat and add 1/4 cup of olive oil once the pot is heated. Add the garlic and onions and a pinch of salt and saute until brown, stirring once or twice.


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​Add the butter and the remaining olive oil, then the celery and carrots. Add two more healthy pinches of salt. Stir occasionally to ensure carrots and celery are cooking evenly. Saute until softened, about 20 minutes.


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​Add the red wine and cook for another five minutes.


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​Add the cans of peeled tomatoes and tomato paste. Gently separate and crush the tomatoes with a spatula. Add another healthy pinch of salt, balsamic vinegar, tarragon vinegar and bay leaves, then stir well until all ingredients are incorporated.


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​Reduce heat to low and simmer for an hour, stirring gently every so often. After an hour, stir well and add the cream, oregano and cracked black pepper. Allow to simmer for another 30 minutes.


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​After half an hour, blend the ingredients by stirring well and using a potato masher to make any remaining chunks of carrots or celery smaller. Afterward, add a few leaves of fresh basil and simmer for another 30 minutes.


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​After half an hour, remove the bay leaves, serve and enjoy.

Serves 10.

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