Sometimes I get lazy. Sometimes I’m in a hurry. When either happens, I open up a jar of pasta sauce, because it’s quick and convenient.
But sometimes, sometimes I want to experience the comforting ritual of making my own sauce from (mostly) scratch. This tends to happen when I spy a few cans of San Marzano tomatoes on my grocery store’s shelf, or when the weather is cold and gloomy.
Yes, these tomatoes cost more than other canned tomatoes, but they’re perfect for making a high quality red sauce.
When I cook up a batch of marinara, I tend to make a decent-sized batch so I can freeze some for later use. In the end, I find making marinara with San Marzanos costs less than buying a couple jars of pasta sauce, and it certainly costs less than a trip to Italy, though if anyone wants to take me, I’ll get my passport out and start packing!
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 celery ribs, diced
2 carrots, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 – 28 ounce cans whole San Marzano tomatoes
1-2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 large sprig fresh basil
1 bay leaf
Heat a generous drizzle of olive oil in large pot or Dutch oven (about 5-7 quart pot) over medium heat. Add onions, celery, and carrots, sauté until softened. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Season with a generous sprinkle of salt (about a teaspoon).
Add tomatoes, breaking them up with your cooking spoon. Add a teaspoon of sugar to combat the acidity of the canned tomatoes, followed by all herbs. Bring to a steady simmer, then reduce heat to a slow simmer until thickened. Adjust salt as needed, add a little more sugar if sauce tastes overly acidic.
Remove and discard basil and bay leaf.
*For a smoother marinara, give the onion, celery, and carrots a whirl in the food processor prior to cooking.