Usually, when I see a recipe with fewer than ten ingredients, I always think that the actual method is going to to be damn near impossible. And usually, I’m right. BUT, in this case, I’d be wrong, because making marinara sauce from scratch is actually dead easy, which is not usual for from-scratch cooking.
Here’s what you’re aiming for: a deep tomato flavor in a vegetal, herbaceous sauce with a nice hint of garlic and a nice basil-y kick. The sauce should be just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon without dripping off entirely.
Marinara sauce recipe ratios
So the thing about marinara is that it’s best made from fresh, home grown tomatoes. The thing about fresh, home-grown tomatoes is that you never really know how much you’re going to have at any given moment, unless you are some gardening master mind which I am not. So here’s some rules of thumb, as it were, to help you gauge how much stuff other than tomatoes you need for how many tomatoes you have. If you’re using home grown tomatoes, mill them prior to figuring out your ratios. Losing the skins and some of the more fibrous stem bits will mess you up otherwise.
- 5 g minced garlic for ever 100 g of milled tomato
- 1 tsp. olive oil for every 100 g of milled tomato
- 1 gram fresh chopped basil per 100g of milled tomato
- 1 gram fresh chopped parsley per 100g of milled tomato
- Salt and pepper to taste
Well, I say salt and pepper to taste, but really ALL this stuff is to taste. However, the following is a reasonable recipe good enough to thoroughly coat a half pound of pasta which is good enough for two reasonably-sized portions.
Marinara Sauce Recipe From ScratchCourse: MainCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Easy
This amazing marinara sauce is best made with garden fresh tomatoes such as San Marzanos or Roma Tomatoes, and this recipe gives instructions for how to prep those beauties. However, you can also use canned tomatoes and get amazing results. It makes enough to fully sauce half a lb. of linguini.
600 g peeled and milled* fresh San Marzano or Roma tomatoes tomatoes, or 23 oz. can of peeled tomatoes.
30 g minced garlic
6 tsp. olive oil
6 g freshly chopped basil
6 g freshly chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Knob of butter (optional, but highly recommended.)
- Prep the tomatoes
- Bring a large pot pot of water to a boil.
- Remove the stems and cut a small x into the base of the tomatoes, just breaking the skin.
- Carefully place the tomatoes in boiling water for no more than 20 seconds. Remove and place in a bowl.
- When cool enough to handle, peel the skin away from the flesh of the tomato. It should be pretty easy if you start at the “x” that you cut in the end.
- Crush the tomatoes with your hands, removing any obviously tough stems or left over skin.
- Empty the tomatoes into a food mill with a medium grade disk and mill until nothing but seeds and dry tissue.
- Cook the sauce
- In a sauce pan or 4 qt. pot, sweat the garlic in the oil on low heat until the garlic is soft and translucent. Do not allow to brown. Toss in the chopped basil and sauté for 30 seconds before emptying your tomato puree into the pan.
- Raise the temperature to medium-high heat and allow the tomato mixture to reduce until it will coat the back of a wooden spoon.* This can take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes depending on the liquid/fiber ratio of your tomato puree.
- Toss in the Parsley just before you serve. Don’t cook the parsley in the sauce for more than 10 minutes. It can get bitter.
- Salt and pepper to taste after the sauce has reduced as much as you want it to.
- Toss your optional knob of butter in right at the end.**
- *The quantity of reduction depends on how much paste your tomatoes produced. My tomatoes are usually fairly fibrous so I don’t need to reduce the sauce for too long. I reduced it by about 100 ml. before I got the texture I wanted.
- **Look, I know that butter isn’t a traditional part of this sauce. But there are a metric ton of dairy-protein-soluble flavonoids in this thing, and it’d be a shame to miss out on this opportunity to release them.
- Boiling the sauce should emulsify the oil into the tomato puree. If you notice a ring or residue of oil around the edge of your sauce, get a whisk and stir the hell out of it for a few minutes over heat. Be careful. Splashing hot tomato sauce is like liquid hot magma.
There you have it. This amazing freaking sauce is done, and ready to coat such things as half a pound of homemade pasta, Gorgonzola- infused polenta, delicious and tender gnocchi, or damn near any other starch you could think of.
Give it a shot, and you’re welcome 😉
Links to ingredients, cooking implements, and whatnot
This is all the stuff I used to make this sauce. The only caveat is that our food mill is an older model. Hopefully it’s helpful!