“Mmmm…it smells soooooo good in here.” A familiar line when a person enters our home while marinara is simmering away on the stove. I began making my own over a decade ago and have not purchased a jar of store bought since. Marinara at home is so simple and versatile. It freezes beautifully, makes a wonderful gift and can be used in more recipes than I could ever list. The best part is that it never tastes quite the same as the last batch but it always tastes good, no matter what. This is a fool proof wow recipe that will forever remain in my cooking arsenal.
Most ingredients can be found in your pantry, making this easy to whip up in a pinch. Any non-sweet red wine you enjoy drinking will do. If cooking wine still exists do not make this recipe with it, or any other recipe for that matter. Feel free to purchase the fancy schmancy canned tomatoes, store brand is more than acceptable though. If you are like us and grow maters in the summer it’s definitely worth your time to freeze some of your harvest. Nothing like homegrown tomatoes for a batch of marinara in the dead of winter.
Easy Homemade Marinara (yields almost 8 cups)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium red onion diced
- 4 cloves minced garlic (we like garlic, omit 1 or 2 cloves if you are not a big fan)
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flake
- optional 1 teaspoon of dried oregano or Italian blend herbs
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup of red wine (amount used depends on intensity of flavor you prefer)
- 2 28oz cans of whole tomatoes in their juice roughly chopped with kitchen shears
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Handful of chopped fresh herbs such as parsley or basil
Instructions Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until almost translucent. Add the garlic and red pepper flake, cook for another 2-3 minutes until onions are translucent. Add wine, bring to a simmer and reduce to at least half it’s consistency. Once wine is reduced and onions are a deep burgundy color add the tomatoes, salt & pepper and optional dried herbs. Simmer for at least 15 minutes before adding fresh herbs.
Marinara can be used immediately, kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or froze for up to 2 months. Throw in a food processor and pulse into a smoother consistency that would be great for dipping or pizza sauce. In our home, more times than not, it is used for a just as simple spinach lasagna with only a few additional ingredients.Simple Spinach Lasagna (yields 8 servings)
- 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
- One batch of Easy Marinara Sauce
- 1lb package of dried lasagna noodles (I need 18 noodles for my dish)
- 2 cups of ricotta cheese
- 15 ounces of fresh spinach
- 1 1/2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
Instructions Preheat oven 350F. Drizzle olive oil in bottom of preferred lasagna dish. Place one layer of dried lasagna noodles in dish (I do not cook my noodles in advance, nor use oven ready. The sauce and spinach have enough moisture in them to cook the noodles while in the oven.). Spread half the ricotta on top followed by half the spinach. Top with a few ladles of marinara. Repeat this process, starting from the noodle layer, once more. Place final layer of noodles on top and pour remaining marinara sauce over them. Cover with shredded mozzarella cheese being sure to go from edge to edge (this will help ensure your pasta edges stay moist and not turn hard while baking). Lightly cover with foil and place in oven for 55 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes or until cheese is golden brown. Allow to set for 10 minutes before serving.This dish is very close to my heart and something my family enjoys often. I highly suggest serving with the same red wine you used to make the sauce. It will compliment the meal perfectly and give you something to cheers.