This is the Best Marinara Sauce EVER! That’s what I thought the minute I first tasted this recipe. Forget everything you thought you knew about marinara sauce. Let me say this, if you think you have had marinara sauce in the past, unless you have had it like this, you have not tried it at all.
But don’t take my word for it, make it for your family and friends and see what they have to say. Make it for your grandmother, even if she is Italian, I dare you! I have served this to my friends in Italy, my family and my friends here in the US and they all say the same thing…this is the Best Marinara Sauce EVER!
This recipe is Italian cooking at its best and in its purest form. It uses a few fresh ingredients which are carefully prepared and the results are incredibly delicious. Did I say delicious? I am just coming off my personal holiday eating bonanza. The Christmas cookies and fruit cake are now gone and for the last month I have been on my protein and veggie diet with very few simple carbs. Well that all ended today when I made this dish for you. This dish is always good, but sometimes you hit it just right and WOW! I found myself saying…this is the Best Marinara Sauce EVER!
Ideally, you would be preparing this dish when the tomatoes are in season and you can walk out to your garden and pick some fresh basil. But these days, thanks to our global economy, we can often find great ingredients year-round. When I prepared this dish in Italy, I got up early and went to the market to get fresh tomatoes, basil, fresh pressed olive oil, and fresh cut parmigiano-reggiano cheese. Even if that’s not your world today, do the best you can to gather good ingredients. It will make a difference! Here are some of the fresh ingredients used in this dish.
So, let’s get started. Personally, I prefer not to see pieces of garlic floating in my sauce. To avoid that I prepare this amazing garlic paste. It is simple to make. You do so by peeling two garlic heads and combining them in a blender with an ounce of extra virgin olive oil and a tablespoon of salt. Once the three ingredients are blended together, you can use in in your sauce and store the remainder in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. I use a small glass Tupperware container. You can use the paste in any dishes requiring garlic. Just make sure that when you add your garlic paste to a pan keep the heat low to ensure the paste will not burn.
There are two things to secrets to making a great marinara sauce, or as many Italians call it, gravy. As you may have guessed secret one is to ensure the ingredients are fresh. The second secret is in the preparation. The preparation of this dish begins by carefully infusing the oil with the garlic paste and peperoncino by simmering the mixture at a low temperature. Once the oil has been infused with the flavors of the garlic and peperoncino, it is time to add your tomatoes. With the tomatoes now in the pan continue cooking them until they are partially dissolved into the oil and begin to break down. You will want to the tomatoes to retain some of their shape as it is part of the dishes signature. Below you see the tomatoes cooking in the pot.
Next add the chopped basil.
Continue cooking the sauce over low heat for 1-2 minutes ensuring the flavor of the basil is absorbed into the sauce.
After the pasta is cooked and drained and add 1/2 of sauce to the pasta pot and mix with the pasta. Cook the pasta and sauce together for another minute. This will ensure the flavor of the sauce is absorbed into the pasta. Place the Pasta in a serving bowl, or individual plates and top with additional sauce before serving. Garnish with Basil and cheese. I am sure that once you try it you too will find yourself saying…this is the Best Marinara Sauce EVER!
Special thanks to Chef Paolo Monti. You are my hero!
- 1 LB package fettuccine, or spaghetti
- 1.5 LB or 4 cups of cherry or grape tomatoes cut in half
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Italian dry peperoncinos smashed or ⅛ TSP of Red Pepper Flakes
- 3-4 garlic cloves slivered thin or minced or 1½ teaspoon garlic paste
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 small bunch approx (4 TBSP) of fresh basil julienned chopped
- 4 ounces grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Optional: If making a garlic paste, 2 big heads of fresh garlic or 3 small ones, 1 ounce extra virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon salt
- TO MAKE THE GARLIC PASTE: Peel the garlic heads. Add to a blender with the extra virgin olive oil and blend until it becomes a paste. Add salt and blend for a second. Transfer the paste to a covered glass container. The garlic paste can be refrigerated up to 3 weeks.
- In a sauce pan on a low fire add 4 TBSP of extra virgin olive oil.
- Add peperoncino or red pepper flakes and garlic. Sauté until garlic becomes fragrant about 15 seconds.
- Add tomatoes, cover the pot and cook at medium-low heat stirring from time to time for about 15
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta.
- Once the tomato sauce has been cooking for at least 15 minutes add one tablespoon of sugar to it. If the tomatoes were sweet to begin with, you won't need any more sugar. If they were not, add another teaspoon of sugar. Add salt. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of the extra virgin olive oil. Stir. Add fresh basil. Turn fire off.
- Cook pasta according to the package instructions, but make sure to cook until the pasta is al dente. If the package says 9 minutes, cook up to 7 minutes. You will need the extra minute in order to simmer the pasta together with the sauce.
- Reserve half cup of the cooked water and drain the pasta in a colander and mix the desired amount of pasta with the sauce. Add two ounces of grated parmesan cheese and cook together for a minute in order for the pasta to absorb with the marinara sauce flavor. If the pasta becomes too tick add a splash of the reserved cooked water to it. Place the desired amount of pasta on individual pasta bowls, and pour some extra sauce on top. Garnish with basil and serve with extra parmesan cheese and freshly ground pepper. Enjoy!