When a great marinara is this simple to make, why would you ever bother with the jarred stuff again?
I have an aversion to such things, as many of you know by now. Sometimes, short cuts make sense. But for me, if I’m going to the trouble to make a delicious pizza from scratch, then you better believe I’m making my own marinara.
I keep canned San Marzano tomatoes on hand at all times. You should never buy crushed or diced canned tomatoes, because those have added preservatives to help them keep their shape. And those added preservatives change the way the tomatoes taste and cook. Instead, you want to buy the whole tomatoes, and then crush them with your hands.
San Marzano tomatoes are a bit more expensive than the regular ones, but well worth it. They’re sweeter and have better flavor. I also like the Muir Glen Organic brand of peeled whole tomatoes, which are usually cheaper.
It’s important to taste the sauce as you go, adding more sugar or salt if necessary. You can never predict how naturally sweet your tomatoes will be – some will be more bitter, and will need more sugar. Keep adding little by little until the taste is right. You can also add a bit of crushed red pepper if you like a kick to your sauce.
Classic Marinara Sauce
Adapted from Food & Wine
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly smashed
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- One 28-ounce can whole peeled Italian tomatoes with their juices, crushed by hand
- Generous pinch of sugar
- Fresh basil leaves
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
In a large saucepan, heat the oil. Add the garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the canned tomatoes with their juices. Stir in the sugar and basil, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Simmer the sauce over low heat, stirring occasionally, until it thickens and is reduced to about 2 1/2 cups, about 30 minutes. Season again with salt and pepper. Discard the basil sprigs and garlic.
Makes about 2 1/2 cups.
The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.