My first experience with authentic marinara sauce was when I was an au pair in Switzerland for a Swiss-Italian Family. It is common for most Swiss Citizens to speak two languages, their native tongue and one of the other 3 official languages (Romansch, Italian, French and German) of Switzerland or English. The family that I was working for spoke Italian and French and very, very little English. This of course was to my advantage, as I was specifically in Switzerland to study French and communicate in French as much as possible. As I was being given the tour of the house by Madame, she showed me the area where dry and jarred goods were kept. There, on the rack were several glass bottles of tomato sauce. This tomato sauce was made by her husbands relatives in Italy in the summer and then shipped to family members in Switzerland. She grabbed a bottle (the bottle looked like an oversized old school ketchup bottle and up the stairs we went to the kitchen to fix lunch. After having my first taste of marinara sauce, I couldn’t believe how gorgeously delicious it was in its simplest most true form. The sauce coated the pasta nicely and with the freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese the dish was satisfying both to the palate and appetite.
This the closest I’ve come to replicate the sauce I once tasted many years ago. Classic Marinara sauce is so easy to make and it requires 5 ingredients! Plus, it’s done in 30 minutes!
I read about Italian tomatoes and how it is important to use them in Marinara Sauce so luckily I found a can of San Marzano tomatoes at a local grocery store. San Marzano tomatoes are plum tomatoes and known to be ‘the best tomatoes in the world’ by chefs. San Marzano tomatoes have less seeds, sweeter, stronger and less acidic taste. As soon as I opened my first can of these beauties, I couldn’t wait to taste what all the rage was about!
You can crush the tomatoes with your hands or use a masher – sometimes I like to get right in there and pretend I’m cooking in pre-metal masher era….
Once you’ve heated the oil, and the garlic slivers are sizzling, add the tomatoes, stir and toss in a basil leaf!
Lovely Marinara sauce in all its glory! You can use this sauce for pizza, dipping, a base for a creamy tomato sauce – wherever you need tomato sauce!
The magic of garlic slivers…..If you have seen the movie Goodfellas, you’ll know exactly where I’m going with is. Do you remember the “Dinner in Prison” scene, where Pauly preps the garlic by using a razor blade? Ideally, that is how thin the garlic should be, I think. I don’t mind a few chunks of tomato in my sauce, but a thick piece of garlic isn’t always my thing – and I LOVE garlic, just not in that way. Anyway, as I was slicing the garlic with a paring knife, I thought about getting a razor or using some other form of slicer to get the garlic to “liquify” in the oil. I don’t even know if you can buy those razors anymore?
- 1 can (28oz) San Marzano Tomatoes, whole
- 3 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil
- 5 cloves of garlic, slivered
- salt and pepper to taste
- ½ cup water
- 2 basil leaves, whole
- Empty the entire can of tomatoes, including juice into a large bowl.
- Using your hands or a masher, crush tomatoes. Set aside.
- Place a heavy bottom saucepan on the stove and add the olive oil, heating it over medium heat.
- Once the oil is hot enough, add the slivers of garlic and let them cook just until they begin to sizzle. You do not want them to turn brown. If you are not sure if the oil is hot enough, just add one sliver of garlic to test - if it sizzles within 1-2 seconds, then perfect - if it floats around and looks to absorbing the oil....then the oil is not hot enough.
- Add the crushed tomatoes to the saucepan and stir.
- Gently stir in basil leaves.
- Let the sauce cook, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes.
- Add salt and pepper to taste, and cook for another 15 minutes.
- Discard basil leaves, check for seasoning and serve over hot pasta or as a dipping sauce for Crispy and Cheesy Polenta Bites or flat bread, or use it as a pizza sauce! Enjoy!