Making Classic Marinara Sauce
Homemade marinara sauce is fast to make, and when you do it yourself is healthy and tastes better than anything you can buy at the grocery store. Using fresh plum or Italian tomatoes is an option, but these are not always in season so we use canned tomatoes.
Marinara sauce originated in southern Italy sometime in the mid-1600’s. For North America, the large influx of Southern Italian immigrants in the early 1900’s brought this inexpensive, yet flavorful sauce to the America’s. Learning to cook, this was one of the first sauces I had to master, and here is how I did it.
- 2 Cans of quality tomatoes 28 fl Oz
- 3 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 7 cloves of garlic - Chopped
- 6 leaves of fresh Basil
- 1 Onion chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Finely Chop Garlic and Onions
- Chiffonade Basil
- Add Olive Oil to Pot on Medium High.
- Add onions and stir until translucent
- Add Garlic and stir for an additional minute
- Add Canned Tomatoes, coarsely chopped
- Simmer until sauce is reduced by 20%
- Add basil, stir and then with an immersion blender, blend sauce until fine pieces can be seen.
- Remove from heat and you are done.
How to Season to Taste
Now that our sauce is blended it is time for the final adjustment of salt and pepper. This is the season to taste portion. And I’m going to show you how to develop your skill.
Put about a ¼ cup of your sauce in a bowl, stir it around to cool down. You can’t season something that is so hot it burns the inside of your mouth. Get out some teaspoons, and have your salt and pepper at the ready.
Now take enough sauce on your spoon to get a good taste, swirl in your mouth and ask yourself, does this taste bright? Or salty. Add a tiny pinch of salt and pepper to the bowl, stir and taste again. Is there a difference? Does it taste better? Brighter? Can you now taste the basil? Repeat this method, remembering how many times you seasoned until the sauce becomes salty. It won’t be an overpowering salt taste, but you will be able to tell that the salt has taken over the flavor of the dish.
The taste of your sauce, just before it became salty is what you’re looking for. You have just learned how to season to taste, and you’re ready for the big pot.
Take a teaspoon, and scoop up some sauce, blow on it to cool down and taste. Add some seasonings and repeat until you get the desired taste, just before the saltiness. It will take practice, but this is one of the basic skills you will never forget, and your cooking will jump up to the next level of great flavor.
If you over season, don’t worry, you didn’t do it by a lot, remember there is a fine line when you season in little steps. Just add ¼ cup of water, stir and let the sauce reduce until you have a perfect balance.
Enjoy your Marinara Sauce over Pasta, add some shrimp, this is the basis for a great meal.