Need a 20-minute weeknight meal that you can make from the pantry?
Look no further. The freshness of this marinara sauce makes any pasta dish deceptively fancy. Once you make it, you’ll never go back to the jarred pasta sauce again.
Classic Marinara Sauce
Recipe from the story Dolce
Yield: 3 1/4 cups Prep time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 15 minutes
1 28 oz can of San Marzano tomatoes*
5-6 garlic cloves (depending on size), slivered
1 whole dried red chili pepper**
Dried oregano (and a few fresh sprigs for garnish if you have it on hand)
Extra virgin olive oil
1 lb of pasta (or fresh Pizza Dough if making a Pizza Marinara)
- In a large bowl, crush the tomatoes with your hands. Fill the empty can with 1 cup of water and add it to the bowl. Set the tomatoes aside and sliver six garlic cloves.
- Heat a large skillet on the stove. Drizzle a little over 1/8 cup of olive oil in the skillet until the bottom of the pan is evenly coated. Sauté the garlic over medium heat until fragrant.
- Add the tomatoes in water, a whole dried chili, a few generous pinches of dried oregano and a dash of sea salt to the skillet. Give the sauce a stir.
- Simmer, mindful of the heat, until the oil forms on the surface and is a dark orange. Use this time to boil the pasta according to the package. The sauce is usually ready in 15 minutes depending on the size of skillet you use. Take out the chili. Add a little more oregano or salt depending on taste.
- Mix the sauce with fresh spaghetti in a pre-warmed bowl immediately after the pasta is cooked and drained. Serve with a side salad tossed in a light vinaigrette. Enjoy!
* San Marzano tomatoes are the all-stars in this marinara sauce. In fact, in Italy, they strictly label the tomato cans with its authentic region much like the French brand a bottle of champagne. So, in an attempt to be a gourmet sleuth, I drove all the way into the city, paid $8 for parking, found the tomatoes at a little Italian market, was stuck in an hour of traffic and made it just in time before my family of test tasters arrived. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Then a friend told me that Trader Joe’s sells San Marzano tomatoes. I should have known.
** Through trial and error, I learned that crushed red pepper flakes make the sauce bitter. Dried pepperoncini (not the pickled yellow peppers) work best. If you can’t find them, a whole dried ancho pepper will work in a pinch. Just take the ancho pepper out of the sauce a few minutes earlier than you would the pepperoncini.