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marinara sauce

Authentic Italian Marinara Sauce

marinara sauce plateWe lived in southern Italy for three years when our kids were super young (two of them were born there!).  The homemade Italian food, by far, is one of those things you never forget once you’ve been there.   Needless to say, we ate a TON of pasta while we lived there, and it still remains one of our favorite staple foods.

The key difference now though is instead of buying marinara sauce from a jar like my mom did, I end up quickly making my own.  It is really so simple (very similar to our homemade pizza sauce recipe) and yet so yummy.

Just before we moved away from Italy, some good friends gifted us with a cookbook called,  “The Italian Mama’s Kitchen.”  So this recipe is a very slight adaptation from that book.

Authentic Italian Marinara Sauce
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Adapted from The Italian Mama's Kitchen.
Recipe type: Sauce
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 3 cups
  • ¼ cup plus 2 TBLspn extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 large cans whole plum tomatoes (low salt) (or 3⅓ cups fresh diced tomatoes)
  • 1 handful fresh basil leaves, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • Freshly ground parmesan cheese
  1. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium.
  2. Add onion and saute until soft.
  3. Add garlic, salt and pepper. Saute 2 minutes more.
  4. Add tomatoes (with juice) and increase heat to med-high.
    If using whole plum tomatoes, break them up slightly in the pan with a wooden spoon.
  5. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer 20-30 minutes, until thickened.
  6. Stir in the basil last and serve over any pasta!
  7. Top with parmesan cheese (optional).


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