A Famous Italian Grandma's 20-Minute Classic Marinara Sauce Recipe Has Very Specific Instructions by Donna John
Who doesn't love Italian chef Lidia Bastianich? I love watching her cook and trying new recipes from her cookbooks. Her classic marinara sauce recipe is one of my favorite Italian recipes to make. With minimal ingredients and cooking time, she transforms a can of whole Italian tomatoes into a fresh marinara sauce worthy of any pasta dish.
Lidia has very specific directions for making her marinara sauce. She's been making this Italian sauce recipe a lot longer than I have, so I trust her steps and followed them to the letter. Who am I to question Lidia?
For this pasta sauce recipe you'll need a can of whole Italian tomatoes, water, extra virgin olive oil, seven fresh cloves of garlic (seven!), a whole dried chile or crushed red pepper flakes, kosher salt and a large fresh sprig of basil with the stem. The sauce cooks on the stovetop in a skillet (not a saucepot!) for about 15 minutes. Like my dump cake recipes, do not stir the sauce while it cooks!
Serve this homemade pasta sauce over your favorite cooked pasta or use it in any recipe calling for red sauce. I simmered my homemade melt-in-your-mouth Italian meatballs in the sauce. Amazing! (Meatball recipe coming soon!)
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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: Makes about 3 1/2 cups
- 1 can (28 ounces) whole Italian tomatoes
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 7 cloves garlic, peeled and slivered (not minced or pressed)
- 1 small dried whole chile or a pinch or crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 large fresh basil sprig with stem or 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- Lidia prefers San Marzano tomatoes that are D.O.P. certified.
- This marinara sauce recipe is enough for 1 pound of pasta.
Here's how to make it:
- Pour the tomatoes into a large bowl and crush them with your hands. Pour the 1 cup of water into the can and "slosh" it around to get all the tomato juice out. Set aside.
- In a large skillet (not a deep pot) over medium heat, add the oil. When the olive is hot, add the garlic.
- As soon as the garlic sizzles, stir and add the tomatoes and tomato water. (Do not let the garlic brown.) Add the whole chile or crushed red pepper flakes, either basil sprig or dried oregano and salt. Place the basil sprig with stem on the surface of the sauce "like a flower." Let it wilt into the sauce, then submerge it into the sauce.
- Let the sauce simmer, without stirring, until the oil on the surface turns a deep orange color, about 15 minutes.
- Taste and add more salt, if needed.
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