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Fresh Marinara Sauce

This is the kind of red sauce we make most often at home. It’s cooked only a few minutes, so the freshness of the tomatoes doesn’t turn into sweetness. The flavor of fresh basil–which we have growing out on our sunniest deck during the warmer months–is a top flavor note.

In that and some other ways, this is not your Sicilian grandmother’s recipe for red gravy. However, you can get close to that by letting the pot of sauce simmer at a low temperature for a few hours, stirring often and not allowed to get very thick. This sauce will be especially good with the likes of braciolone, for example.

Spaghetti and meatballs and marinara sauce.

  • 2 cans whole plum tomatoes with basil
  • 4 fresh, ripe plum tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Leaves of six sprigs of Italian parsley, chopped
  • 15 leaves fresh basil, chopped

1. Drain and reserve the juice from the canned tomatoes. Put the tomatoes in a food processor and chop them almost into a puree. (You can also do this by squeezing the tomatoes with your fingers in a bowl.)

2. Cut off the stem end and cut an X on the smooth end of each fresh tomato. Drop them into boiling water for about fifteen seconds. After they cool a bit, peel the tomatoes, squeeze out the seeds and pulp, and chop them finely.

3. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over high heat until it ripples. Add the garlic, crushed red pepper, and oregano and cook for a minute. Add all the tomatoes and stir, maintaining the heat, until you have a pretty good boil. Lower the heat, add one cup of the reserved juice, and return to a low boil.

4. Add the salt, parsley and basil, and continue cooking for about ten minutes, stirring once in awhile. You can cook it longer for a sweeter sauce, but I think it tastes best right at this point.

Makes about six cups of sauce.

2 Readers Commented

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  1. Wiley Thornton on January 8, 2014

    This is one of my favorite dishes. I have preopared it several ways, plain, with shrimp, clams, mussels and with peppers and italian sausage. Our company enjoys it as much as we do.

  2. Wiley Thornton on January 8, 2014

    This is one of my favorite dishes. I have prepared it several ways, plain, with shrimp, clams, mussels and with peppers and italian sausage. Our company enjoys it as much as we do.

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