While many recipes on this blog might come from non-Italian sources (allrecipes.com, my “cook everything” cookbooks, etc.), this recipe is straight legit. My adorable New Yorker step-grandmother, “Granny Zeller,” was of Italian descent and one of the best cooks in New York. (I’m legally allowed to say this because it’s 100 percent accurate.) Her marinara recipe has been passed down through generations, and now I’m passing it on to you.
Perhaps you’ve wondered how hard it would be to make your own marinara sauce? The answer: not that hard. While it can be time consuming (at least one hour of stirring the pot every 15 minutes) it is completely worth the trouble. Follow this family recipe and your entire house will become immersed in the smell of Italian tomato goodness.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Big can of tomato purée (at least 28 oz.)
- One (small) can of tomato paste
- A can of whole tomatoes (at least 32 oz.)
- 2 tsp. of salt
- 2 tsp. oregano
- 1 tsp. basil
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tsp. sugar
- 1/2 cup of olive oil
- 4 cloves of garlic (put through a garlic press or two heaping teaspoons of minced garlic)
- A few dashes of pepper or hot sauce to taste
Combine all ingredients (do not drain anything) into a large pot. Set burner on low heat. Stir every 15 minutes for one hour. [Tip: I like to let this sauce simmer for closer to two hours if time allows.] Take bay leaves out before serving.
This makes a decent amount of marinara – enough for a lasagna and a half or 4-6 generous servings of pasta, depending on how saucy you like your dishes. It also freezes really well.
Okay, so I know what some of you are thinking: can’t I just use the jar of sauce in the pasta aisle? If you must forsake my family, I’ll give you some pointers. You can make a pretty decent sauce by adding ingredients to the most basic marinaras.
Select marinara with no or limited ingredients, such as the Barilla jar on the right (it only has olive oil). To jazz up these store-bought brands, simply pour into a pot on low heat. Add 2 tsp. pressed (or minced) garlic, 3 heavy shakes of basil, 3 heavy shakes of oregano, a dash of salt and 1/4 cup of olive oil. If the jar already has basil in it (such as the Bertolli brand on the left), then just include one shake of basil.
There you go. No excuses. You’ll now forever serve better marinara, whether you go the lazy route or the good route. Go forth and simmer.
[Source: My sweet Granny Zeller through my step-dad, Lou.]