quick and easy marinara sauce

Doesn’t that tomato sauce look good up there? It’s so easy a kid could make it with proper supervision from mom or dad. It has all of five ingredients—the last one is salt and pepper, which is usually a giveaway ingredient when it comes to cooking contests. Once you make and taste this marinara you’ll be a convert and see there is no reason to ever, ever…did I say ever, buy a jarred sauce. It just seemed like the perfect recipe for my new column,  Jennie’s Family Table, over at Relish Magazine.


One thing I’d like to implore when making any tomato sauce based recipe is use good quality tomatoes. You’ll taste the difference. If you’re using San Marzano tomatoes, make sure they have the D.O.P. certification on the label. This Denominazione d’ Origine Protetta (D.O.P) assures you they are actually from Italy and have been harvested by hand so as not to bruise the delicate crop. Combine that process along with international shipping, and it’s easy to understand why these tomatoes run a pretty price. Honestly, it’s not worth buying a knock off San Marzano, so it pays to read the labels and even test drive a few brands to find your favorite. The brand I really love best, Coluccio, costs more than $5 at my local Italian market. I’m sure it can be had a few pennies cheaper someplace else or online (I just found out Coluccio has a store not far from my house), but I love the shopkeeper and when my budget allows, I like to support my neighborhood store.

Now, I’ve got a family of four to feed, and we consume a lot of marinara sauce—the name gives it away, right? So, when San Marzanos aren’t in my budget, my “go to” canned tomatoes are Pastene’s Ground Peeled ones, which run around $2 a can. Unlike other brands, these are not from concentrate and have not been watered down. Pastene also sells San Marzano canned tomatoes but I haven’t seen them in my local supermarket, so can’t vouch for the taste. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, go get some tomatoes and make some marinara sauce—you’ll need it later in the week to go with the gnocchi you see below.



  • Gail

    Great post, Jennifer. I buy D.O.P. San Marzano tomatoes alot. Do you shop at Fairway? That’s where I buy mine…I think they have the best price in town.

  • Chez Us

    Great post – I did not know that about the DOP labeling, will be looking out for it from now on. On a side note, I have been looking for a good everyday tomato based sauce for pasta – thank you for making that task easier!
    ~ Denise

  • merry jennifer

    I love making pasta sauce this way – never add sugar, though. I’m going to try your recipe next time I make it. Which might be in about 20 minutes. 🙂

  • Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction

    Yum! I know all about the DOP labeling.. but unfortunately, it’s hard to find here. It’s the same with olive oil and Balsamic vinegar! I always stock up when I’m in the Italian North End in Boston (and then the hubby gripes that my suitcase is so heavy coming home… oops!). Sometimes I add a bit of honey or agave to the sauce instead of sugar, too!

  • Sabrina

    Would love to have your Marinara Sauce recipe, when I click the link it does not work. Thanks 🙂