Marinara Sauce

Growing up, our family ate a lot of pasta, spaghetti in particular. I remember coming home from school, falling asleep on the couch with the Nightly News on, and waking up to the glorious smell of tomato sauce on the stove.  I never grew tired of eating spaghetti. Out on my own, it was one of the few meals I felt like I could make.


Boil water, stir in the pasta, and warm up the sauce. Done! How hard could it be? Well, lets just say I had plenty of room for improvement. When my husband and I were dating, he came over to my apartment and I made spaghetti one night for dinner. I had bought the absolute cheapest sauce (I think it came in a packet mix!) and dried spaghetti noodles. Needless to say, we did eat that meal, but you can be sure he didn’t marry me for my pasta cooking skills.

As with most (all?) things in life – the devil is in the details as they say. Making a homemade sauce, cooking the noodles to al dente in salted water, finishing the noodles in the sauce, and topping with parmesan; have all made pasta night one that brings everyone running to the table, just like it did growing up.



Spaghetti with a Basic Marinara Sauce

I especially like that Deb Perelman’s sauce and have simmered the half onion in the same way that she calls for in her sauce. If you happen to over salt, a pinch of sugar will correct the problem.

Serves 4-6

  • 32 ounce canned, diced tomatoes in their juices
  • 1/2 yellow onion, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons dried oregano
  • kosher salt
  • 1 lb of pasta
  • 1/2 cup pasta cooking water


Heat oil in large heavy bottomed pot. Saute garlic and spices until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and nestle onion in the pot. Add a pinch of salt. Stir and reduce heat to medium low to simmer. Stir every 5 minutes or so. The sauce will reduce and thicken. You will know it’s done when the flavors meld and the sauce flavor deepens and doesn’t taste as bright. About 30 -40 minutes.

As the sauce is cooking, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and then add a tablespoon kosher salt. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water and drain pasta into a colinder. Once sauce is ready, discard onion. Add reserved pasta water and pasta to the sauce. Coat the pasta in the sauce. I find tongs helpful at this point. Simmer to finish the pasta. Plate and serve with shredded parmesan. Enjoy!

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