Did you read that title? I know, I know, I’m excited too. And in case you think that I’m going to give you a tomato sauce recipe using canned tomatoes, you are dead wrong. Today is all about how to get a 100% authentic Italian marinara sauce (which, by the way, isn’t even the correct name because marinara refers to a sauce with seafood…but I digress) and this came straight from the mouth of an Italian chef. Basically, it doesn’t get more legit than this.
While in Italy, I was lucky enough to go to a cooking class where we learned how to make eggplant parmigiana (coming soon!!), homemade marinara sauce, hand formed colonnata pasta, and a gorgeous lemon custard. And not only did I learn some really cool techniques (has anyone else been dying to learn how to make their own pasta?!) we were also taught how to best select ingredients for each dish and then how to prepare them to best enhance their flavor. So let me break this down into two different sections. First up?
1. Tomato: Since the tomato is the main ingredient here, I’m going to talk about them first. During our cooking class, the chef stressed the importance of NOT using canned tomatoes (they have a processed after taste) and also using ONLY tomatoes still on the vine. It helps ensure freshness and gives the best possible flavor.
2. Garlic: I didn’t realize this, but apparently garlic has a much shorter shelf life than I had previously thought. According to Andrea (our chef) the fresher the garlic, the less you need. If garlic is old, you will start to see a green stem coming out from the center. Apparently this little middle part is what causes garlic to give us all bad breath. So the fresher your garlic, the less you have to worry about post meal garlic breath.
3. Basil: Ok, so with basil my first tip is to really go out and buy your own plant to keep on your window sill. I use basil in just about everything and it has saved my life and my wallet knowing that I have a regenerating source at my disposal at all times. Plus, they’re pretty hard to kill which is wonderful for all those black thumbed gardeners out there! And my second tip actually deals with how to wash basil. Honestly, washing herbs has always kind of been a rinse under the tap for a few seconds and you’re done approach but, after watching our chef, I realized that there is a much easier/effective way of doing things! Simply fill a small bowl with cold water, pluck the leaves from the basil and add to the water leaving to soak until you are reading to use them! So easy and it is much more effective in cleaning off any residual dirt.
Ok, so now that we’ve talked about the importance of the quality of ingredients, let’s talk about the method. Since we are using fresh tomatoes we’ve got to blanch them, and luckily this only takes about 20-30 seconds per tomato. It goes by super fast and if you score the tomato (as shown in the photo above) you can easily peel off the skin once you remove it from the boiling water.
**And a great tip our chef shared was to not submerge the tomatoes in an ice water bath as this makes them absorb even more water and makes your sauce way too watery.
So once you’ve blanched your tomatoes and peeled off the skin, place them in a food processor along with 2 cloves of really fresh garlic about 1 tsp of salt, a touch of olive oil and 1/4 cup packed basil.
Simply blend all of the ingredients together until smooth (it’s ok if it has a bit of texture) then place into a large pot and bring to a simmer.
Cook for about 20 minutes on simmer then serve on top of some noodles or place in a jar in the fridge for up to 1 week.
And there you have it! A super simple, but completely authentic recipe for Italian Marinara! And if you’re curious about how to serve this pasta sauce, check back tomorrow for another recipe about which noodles really go with a red sauce (hint: it’s NOT spaghetti).
- 8-10 tomatoes on the vine
- 2 cloves garlic
- ¼ cup packed basil
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp. salt
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Wash the tomatoes and score twice (these cuts should be very shallow), forming two perpendicular lines.
- Once the water is bowling, add the tomatoes (about 2-3 at a time) into the water and let sit for about 30 seconds, then remove and place in a large bowl.
- Let cool for about a minute, then use your fingers to peel off the skin (this is where the cuts you made earlier come in!)
- Place the peeled tomatoes into a food processor and add the garlic, olive oil, salt, and basil and pulse together until completely smooth (this may take a few minutes).
- Once blended, add the mixture back into a large sauce pan and bring to a simmer.
- Cook for about 20-30 minutes or until the sauce has thickened.
- *Storage: Keep in an air tight container for up to a week!