With just a handful of ingredients and a few extra minutes, you can make a marinara sauce that is so much tastier than anything you’ll find in a jar.   It’s quick enough to make on a weeknight, and the leftovers keep well in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.  Be sure to save this recipe as you’ll want to come back to it again and again for pastas, chicken parmesan, meatball sandwiches, pizza sauce and more.

Sarah’s Marinara

Time: 30-40 minutes          Yield: makes 5 cups


  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion (about 1 medium cooking onion)
  • 1 heaping Tbsp minced garlic (about 6-8 cloves)
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 680ml/23oz  bottle of Passata *(see notes below)
  • 796ml/28oz can of good quality diced tomatoes
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh basil
  • parmesan or pecorino romano rind
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • kosher salt, to taste (if necessary)


  1. In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 7 minutes.
  2. Make sure the red wine is ready and by the stove.  Add the garlic to the pot and stir until just fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Immediately pour in the wine and stir, scraping up any bits on the bottom of the pan.  Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the red wine has almost evaporated.
  3. Add the passata, diced tomatoes, basil sprigs and cheese rind, and stir to combine.  Reduce the heat to medium low and allow the sauce to barely simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 25-30 minutes.  Turn off the heat and remove the basil and cheese rind.  Stir in the butter and add salt, to taste.  (Note that the tomatoes and cheese rind are already fairly salty, so you may need very little or no extra salt.) Serve warm.



  • Passata, or Passata di Pomodoro, is pureed and strained tomatoes, that is most often sold in bottles or cartons.  Look for it in the canned goods section or Italian foods section of your grocery store.  It can also be purchased on Amazon by clicking here
  • If you like your sauce a little spicy, feel free to add 1/4-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes at the same time as the garlic.
  • In the first step, it’s important to gently cook the onions to the texture that you’d like them to be in your finished sauce, before adding the wine.  The technique is called “sweating” and it means to gently cook a food in oil until soft, but not brown.  Once you add an acidic ingredient, such as wine or tomatoes, the onions will essentially stop cooking. If they were still a little crunchy when you added the wine, they will remain a little crunchy in your finished sauce.  Don’t rush the first “sweating” step.  Let the onions get nice and soft before proceeding.
  • In the second step, it mentions that you should have your wine at the ready before adding the garlic.  The reason for this is that garlic cooks very fast, and the flavour changes from delightfully pungent to downright bitter when it starts to brown.  Once you’ve added the garlic, things will move quickly, so that’s not the time to start searching for the corkscrew.   Have it ready and pour it in as soon as that gorgeous garlic smell has been released. It literally takes just 30 seconds.
  • Making it ahead:  Any sauce not being used right away can be cooled and transferred to a covered container to be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.



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