This Easy Marinara Sauce Recipe is based on one my friend Heather shared with me.
I think everyone has a friend like Heather, one who does everything beautifully. So, when she told me she had an easy marinara sauce recipe to share, I knew it was going to be good.
This past week has been a doozy around my home. My auto-immune disorder and arthritis decided to flare at the same time, and I felt like I’d been run over by a bus.
Looking back, I can see the warning signs now. I’m still learning to recognize them, though, and I didn’t slow down early enough. The result was three days of basically not moving due to the pain.
Meanwhile, I fell behind on everything.
When I started feeling better over the weekend, I realized my teenager had polished off all of the leftovers in the fridge. If we were going to have lunch, I’d need to cook something. That’s when I remembered Heather’s easy marinara sauce recipe. Since I had all of the ingredients, I decided to give it a try.
Easy Marinara Sauce Recipe Tips
I’d been told this was an easy, 10-minute recipe perfect for busy nights and was thrilled to learn that was true. I started boiling the water for pasta the same time I began prepping ingredients for this sauce, and wound up waiting for the pasta because the sauce is that easy to make!
Make Mincing Easier
Sprinkle Garlic on Salt Before Mincing
To make mincing garlic easier, I sprinkled a pinch of Kosher salt over the cloves first. This keeps the garlic from sticking to the knife blade as you work.
It makes it easier to slide the minced garlic onto your blade when you’re ready to transfer it to the pan, too.
Use Scissors to Mince Fresh Herbs
One thing about using fresh herbs: you want to add them at the end, so the flavors stay bright. If you’re using dried herbs, though, add them early in the cooking process.
I snipped about eight large basil leaves in a small ramekin with the tips of my kitchen scissors. I find this much easier than trying to chop fresh herbs with a knife.
It works great with just about every fresh herb besides lemongrass. That stuff needs to be whacked with the side of a knife to pulverize it a bit, then sliced. But for this recipe, scissors work wonderfully.
Sauté Spices Together
Heat a skillet on medium-high while you’re prepping the garlic then swirl a tablespoon or two of extra-virgin olive oil in it. When the oil has warmed, add the garlic and cook until it’s fragrant — about 1 minute — then stir in the rest of the herbs and spices.
Reserve the Tomato Liquid
While the garlic and spices are cooking, quickly drain the diced tomatoes into a bowl. Don’t discard the tomato liquid, though! You may want to add more liquid it to thin the sauce, depending on how you’re serving it.
I like a thicker sauce over pasta, so I saved most of the liquid to make a Bloody Mary later this week. (Don’t judge.)
Break Up Tomatoes While Simmering
Stir the drained tomatoes into the skillet and lower the heat to medium. Continue simmering the tomato mixture, using the edge of your spatula to help them break down. Add the reserved tomato juice back in as needed to keep the sauce simmering and not burning.
After 7 minutes or so of simmering the sauce is ready. By this point, all of the ingredients have melded together in a nice, hearty sauce. Remove the skillet from the heat and sprinkle with any fresh herbs you’re using.
Ways to Use Marinara Sauce
Rumor has it that some people don’t like eating pasta every night. I am not one of them. But if you happen to want other ways to enjoy your easy marinara sauce, here are a few you should try.
- Combine it with meatballs to make a Meatball Sub Sandwich.
- Swap pasta for zucchini noodles for a low-carb alternative.
- Add it to this recipe for quick tomato soup.
- Substitute 1 cup of easy marinara sauce for water while making rice then stir in chopped pimento-stuffed manzanilla olives and minced onions for Spanish rice.
- Turn it into a quick dip for chips by combining equal parts marinara sauce and sour cream.
- Use it in place of tomato sauce on this recipe for the best meatloaf ever.
- Fill an omelet with a smear of marinara sauce plus sauteed mushrooms and onions.
- Use it in place of ketchup on burgers and add a thin slice of mozzarella cheese.
- Add it to stews, roasts, or any beef-based dish.
And, of course, you can always replace part of the tomato juice in a Bloody Mary with marinara sauce for a nice change of pace. (As I said, don’t judge!)
Easy Marinara Sauce Recipe
Easy Marinara Sauce
- 3 1/2 cups canned petite diced tomatoes (Two 14.5 ounce cans)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic cloves minced
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 1/2 teaspoons fresh basil leaves minced (about 8 leaves) OR 1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
- 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes to taste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Drain the tomatoes, reserving the liquid.
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add dried spices, including pepper flakes, to the skillet and cook 1 minute.
- Reduce heat to medium and add drained tomatoes to skillet. Cook, stirring constantly and using the edge of your spoon or spatula to break down the tomatoes. Add reserved tomato liquid as needed to thin sauce. Remove from heat when tomatoes have broken down and sauce is heated through.
- Stir in fresh basil (if using) and season to taste with salt and pepper.
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