Home-made Marinara Sauce

Marinara Sauce

As you might recall from my Cheesy Meatballs post, I have an intense desire to be like a real Italian Mama one day. I want my children to adore me like Italian children adore their mothers and I want my children to know that at my house, there will always be food and laughter to comfort and nourish them. But, just like I said in my Cheesy Meatballs post, I can dream of being a little Italian Mama until I’m blue in the face, because I’ll never be little nor Italian. But what I can do, is strive to cook like one.

I might have the wrong idea here, but I always imagine Italian mothers, during the Summer months when tomatoes are just perfect,  cooking pots full of home-made pasta sauce (Marinara as the Americans call it). I imagine them sterilising bottles then filling them with the fragrant and bright red pureed tomatoes. All in preparation for the cold Winter months when the tomatoes won’t be sweet and juicy but they still want to taste that freshness. In my head, this all happens in Tuscany.

Marinara Sauce

In my kitchen, the closest my family gets to home-made tomato pasta sauce is if I jazz up a few tins of chopped tomatoes, which I’ve done to great effect before. But last week I bought an entire box (about 50) bright red tomatoes and I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do with them. I bought them because they smelt of Summer and I imagine Italy to smell just like that. Like juicy, fresh tomatoes, perfectly ripe and perfectly red. As my husband helped me carry the groceries into the house he asked me what on earth I was going to do with all these tomatoes. Especially because I don’t like storing tomatoes in the fridge and because they would go off in the terrible heat we are experiencing.

That’s when I decided to use them all in a delicious Marinara (said with a real ‘rrrr’ sound, not an American ‘r’ sound) sauce. I started Googling recipes and found that most people simmer the tomatoes with onions, garlic and herbs and then puree and strain the tomatoes. That sounded all well and dandy but I just didn’t think that would add that oomph I was after. The logical explanation to me when you want to extract some serious flavour, is to roast it. So I threw all the ingredients into my biggest roasting tray and allowed the oven to do all the work. I roasted them (and actually forgot about them) for about 2 minutes too long, hence the amount of charred-ness on the tomatoes and onions. But I actually really like the amount of flavour that infused into the sauce, giving it a nice smokey flavour.

I also decided NOT to strain the sauce. I was planning to do just that but after pureeing the sauce I really liked the texture and so I decided to leave it just like that, but if you decided to strain the sauce, you might need to allow it to thicken a bit more in a pot on the stove just to really maximize on the flavour. Remember to make MUCH more than you bargain to use right away because this freezes incredibly well. And then, you always have fresh pasta sauce to your disposal. Perfect for Lasagna, Meatballs, even Enchilladas or Meatball sandwiches. Yum!!

Marinara Sauce

Makes about 1l Marinara sauce

2kgs ripe tomatoes, peeled and quartered
4 large onions, peeled and quartered
7 garlic cloves
5tbsn olive oil
3tbsn balsamic vinegar
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1tbsn sugar
1-1/2 tbsn salt
freshly ground pepper

  • Pre-heat the oven to 200°c.
  • Combine all the ingredients in a large roasting tray and place in the heated oven.
  • Allow to roast for 30-45 minutes until the vegetables appear charred.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool down slightly.
  • Puree the vegetables in a blender/food processor. Season to taste.
  • At this point, you can strain the mixture through a sieve if desired. Place the strained sauce into a saucepan and allow to reduce and thicken slightly.
  • If you’ll be freezing the sauce, pour it into freezable containers or freezer bags and label them with the date. Freeze for up to 3 months.
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Alida Ryder
Alida Ryder
Being a general food freak has proven to be quite helpful in this career I've found myself in. Author of two cookbooks, photographer, food stylist. Mom to twins. Ex make-up and hair artist obsessed with beautiful clothes and spaces. I love a good G&T and I've been known to spend too much money on shoes.
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  • Flee

    OOOhhhh Wow… I like the Idea of Roasting the tomatoes and onions…. MMMM and add a little Fresh chilli and you will have the most divine Arrabbiatta.. OMW guess what I’m doing for dinner tonight

    • http://www.simply-delicious-food.com Ally_R

      Flee, I always add chilli to my food lol. Let me know what you think! :)

  • Flee

    OMGreatness…. Num Num Num… Added two little green chilli’s and Lordy lordy lord… Used a whole pot of Penne, Scoffed the lot (Ssssh dont tell anyone)… Thank you so much… This will def become a regular…

    • http://www.simply-delicious-food.com Ally_R

      Flee : So glad you liked it! :)

  • lindy nice

    Your recipe is flawed. There was nothing left for freezing!! ;). Was really easy to make. Already posted link to your blog on fb. My kids don’t like tomato-based sauces (weird cause they like tomatosauce) but they all had second helpings. Someone said they are adding butternut. Think that will be nice too!!

    Thank you!! Thank you!!

    • http://www.simply-delicious-food.com Ally_R

      Lindy : Thanx so much for the lovely comment! :)

  • http://www.flintstudio.com MarketingMother

    I need to try this one out this weekend, have been looking for a neat pasta sauce that I can freeze and re-use.

    Two quick questions:
    1. Do you have a quick recipe for gravy sauce (for rice, potatoes, meat etc)?
    2. Where is the best place that stock fresh herbs like the thyme?

    Gonna be a regular visitor to your blog from now on :-)

    Keep well

    • http://www.simply-delicious-food.com Ally_R

      MM: I don’t actually have a gravy recipe. I normally just take the pan I roasted the meat in, stir in some flour over heat and then add stock.
      I live in South Africa and all supermarkets have fresh herbs. But you should also get fresh herbs at a fruit and veg shop (green grocer) or a fresh produce market?

  • http://simply-delicious-food.com/ Alida Ryder

    I just really love the flavour of thyme with tomatoes. :)

  • http://simply-delicious.co.za/ Alida Ryder

    Anne, it does make for a better sauce. The easiest way to peel tomatoes is to score the top of each tomato then pour boiling water over them and allow to sit in the hot water for a minute then dunk into ice water and the skins should just slip off.

  • http://simply-delicious.co.za/ Alida Ryder

    Tanya, perhaps put your oven on nice and hot then pour the sauce into a deep roasting tray and allow it to ‘roast’ until reduced and more intense in flavour? You could also do that in a saucepan and just simmer it down until it’s more intense? Add a little tomato paste if your sauce isn’t as red as you want it.

  • Adrienne A

    Oh.my.word. Every year I try a new spaghetti sauce recipe when my tomatoes are ripe in the garden, and every year I am sadly disappointed. This sauce is amazing. Sing-it-from-the-hills AMAZING. I will never try another sauce recipe again. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    • http://simply-delicious.co.za/ Alida Ryder

      I am so glad you love this sauce Adrienne. Thank you for your lovely comment.

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