Marinara Sauce | Dad’s secret to spaghetti

He would call to tell me that he was making spaghetti…and that was enough for me to drop everything I was doing at college and drive home (it wasn’t that far…but that’s not the point).

As a little girl, I would push a chair over to watch him make his famous sauce over the stove. He told me all his secrets to making the best marinara. And he made it smooth…just the way I liked it.  With his last stirs he would shout, “let’s kick it up a notch” and throw in some spices.

I will share two of my dad’s secrets on making  an amazing sauce with you:

1. To make the best marinara, no matter chunky or smooth, DON’T measure.  Keep your measuring cups and spoons in the drawer and rely on your taste buds.

2. Break off two big pieces of french bread and cook with someone you love.

Let’s start with a basic sauce:

olive oil


Canned Whole Tomatoes (crushed, sauce, or diced will work too)


salt and pepper

Fresh Basil (optional)


Directions: Saute over medium heat 1 clove of garlic/ 28 oz can of tomatoes in a little olive oil for 30 seconds. Crush by hand the whole tomatoes in liquid and add to a large saucepan. Note: Kids love crushing tomatoes!   Bring to a boil and simmer for at least an hour.

Now the secret begins…it’s time to add some seasoning and sugar.  Tomatoes are acidic, but the amount of acid varies from one tomato to the next.  Sugar helps to cut the acidity of the tomatoes, but there is no set amount to add.  Simply start sprinkling in some sugar (roughly about  1 tablespoon/ 28 oz can), give it a stir and then taste.  The acid of the tomatoes will taste a little tangy on your tongue.  Keep adding sugar little by little till that “tangy” taste goes away.  If you add too much sugar just add another jar of tomatoes  :)

Now it’s time to season with salt. Use the same method of adding a little and then taste till it is so good you are licking the spoon.

Add some pepper and finish with some fresh basil.

It all takes a little practice, but once mastered you will never go back to jarred sauce. Guaranteed.


Add ins:

Onions: Saute some onions in olive oil till soft and transparent.  Add your garlic. Saute and continue with Basic Sauce steps (above).

Make it Ragu: add veal or turkey and saute mushrooms, celery, carrots, a little chopped rosemary, and onion in a pan. Continue with Basic Sauce Recipe.

Make it rich: Give it a splash of heavy cream and or red wine.

Be adventurous: add in a few chopped black olives and a quill of cinnamon with your Ragu.

Make it Smooth: If you have a little one that likes it smooth, but you want to add some veggies to the sauce…just put it all through the blender (except the meat).  They will never know!  I fool people all the time :)

ENJOY and have fun!

Always serve with lots of pasta and bread :)


no comments
Add a comment...

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *