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Marinara my grandmother made.

Ah….Marinara Sauce…. What is it?  How do you make it?   My grandmother made 2 kinds of sauce both red sauce.  One sauce was “gravy”, it was made with meat, tomato puree, tomato paste, dried herbs, and simmered for several hours.  The other sauce was tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic and olive oil, and was ready in 20-30 minutes. I like Plum tomatoes, they don't have to be from Italy, but it doesn't hurt.  The garlic has to be fresh, firm and white.  Lastly fresh basil.  


For me, it was either Marinara sauce or Gravy and both are similar ingredients but taste very different. 

I love Marinara, it's quick, fresh and easy.  And very versatile.

Pasta Valente sold and marketed Marinara Sauce, we had a Fat Free Marinara, Artichoke, Roasted Red Pepper, Roasted Garlic and Black Olives and a Lemon, Capers and Dried Tomato Marinara.

They were the best sauce in a jar.  There are others that are almost as good and that is for another post.

Here’s the recipe for Marinara Sauce.


                1 28 oz can of Plum Tomatoes, crushed

                ½ olive oil

                3-8 cloves of garlic, chopped

                1-2 bunches of fresh basil, chopped

In a saucepan, or sauté pan heat olive oil and cook garlic.  Let the garlic sweat, not browned or burn.  Add the tomatoes and fresh basil.  Simmer 15 minutes.

 Things to think about:

Do you like it chunky, cut the tomatoes in big pieces. I love it this way, but I'm the only one in my house.

Do you like a fresh or rustic tomato flavor, use less olive oil. 

Do you like a smooth flavor, use more olive oil, and chopped the tomatoes in a blender.

If you want a lighter sauce, don’t use any olive oil at all.

 And here’s where the fun begins:


Artichoke Marinara:   Add chopped artichokes packed in water, about 1 can. Add to Marinara Sauce and simmer about 3 minutes.

Roasted Red Pepper Marinara:  Add pureed Roasted Red Peppers packed in water, about 1 large pepper.  Add to Marinara Sauce and simmer 3 minutes

Roasted Garlic and Black Olives:   Great for garlic lovers or to keep vampires away.  (Take a head of garlic, chop off the top, place it in an oven proof dish, drizzle on olive oil and roast in a 400 degree oven for 25-35 minutes.  The garlic should be pungent and soft. )  Add 1 cup of chopped, seeded Kalamata black olives.  Add to Marinara Sauce and simmer 3 minutes

Portobello & Leek : Use 1 head of leeks and about a 1/2 lb of sliced Portobello mushrooms.  Cut the white part of the leeks, discard the green. Slice into small slivers and rinse thoroughly.  Chop the Portobello mushrooms into small pieces.  In a saute pan add 1/4 cup olive and simmer the leeks and mushrooms on medium heat.  Stir and let the flavors meld.  Add to marinara sauce when the leeks are translucent and the mushrooms are soft.

Lemon, Capers Marinara: this sauce is made without garlic and olive oil, just tomatoes, 1/2 cup lemon juice and and 3 TBSP  of  capers. It’s a great condiment for seafood.


Now if you want to know more about my grandmom’s gravy, you’ll have to wait until it gets colder.