I do love a simple marinara sauce and how versatile it is. And I want to love jarred marinara sauces, their ease and flavor are undeniably alluring. But a quick glance at most sauce labels will likely reveal a troublesome list of added salt, sugar and sometimes fat. But you need not sacrifice the convenience of a no-fuss weeknight pasta dinner. For about the same price, and only a tiny bit more effort, you can have a delicious from-scratch sauce in about the same time as it takes to boil water and cook your pasta.
If you’re up for it, make a double batch and freeze half, it will make the next pasta night even easier. Or skip the spaghetti all together, and spoon it over pizza dough or layer it between lasagna noodles. The possibilities are endless with this quick and easy marinara.
1 pound pasta, whatever brand and type you prefer
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced or grated
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes, optional
1 medium sweet onion, skinned and halved
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes (no or low salt added, if possible)
1 cup water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup fresh basil, julienned (Click here to see how)
Grated or shredded Italian cheese, to garnish
- Warm the olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat, add the garlic, quartered onion and red pepper flakes with a pinch of salt, cook a minute or two.
- Add the vinegar and cook another minute.
- Stir in crushed tomatoes, water, salt and pepper.
- Increase the heat to high until sauce begins to bubble, then lower back to medium-low.
- Simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- While the sauce simmers, make the pasta following the package instructions.
- When the pasta is almost done, remove the onion halves from the sauce and stir in the basil. Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce.
- Simmer everything on low for a few minutes to let the flavors combine.
- Top with your favorite Italian cheese, such as Parmesan or Romano, then nosh.