Let me show you how simple it is to make this basic kitchen staple.
Origin of Marinara Sauce
Like many recipes, the clue to this recipe’s origin lies in the meaning of its name. Marinara comes from the Italian word “marinaro” which means sailor (source). It’s thought that it was a sauce made for sailors either during their travels or upon returning from sea to Naples, Italy.
The earliest written recipe is believed to be from a 1692 Italian cookbook. Marinara then became popular in the US with the arrival of Italian immigrants to the region in the early 20th century (source).
How to Make Marinara
This 1-pot, 9-ingredient recipe is forgiving. As long as you start with quality tomatoes and herbs, the rest kind of happens naturally.
Plus, I include a couple of hero ingredients that save the day if things are tasting lackluster (a cook always need a good backup plan).
I prefer using canned crushed, peeled tomatoes, but diced work as well. In fact, I keep a few cans in the kitchen at all times in case I need a quick penne and red sauce to save the day.
Next comes flavor in the way of garlic, fresh basil, oregano, red pepper flake, and sea salt. Coconut sugar keeps things naturally sweetened and may seem like an unlikely addition. But sometimes tomatoes can be a bit astringent and bitter, and because this marinara is quite salty, the sweetness balances and enhances the flavors of the sauce.
And what if, at the end, it just needs some extra oomph? Tomato paste and nutritional yeast to the rescue (for a little “umami” effect and more depth of flavor – trust me on this one).
I hope you all LOVE my take on marinara. It’s:
Easy to make (1 pot!)
& Perfect for pasta night
This is the perfect sauce for dishes like Spaghetti Squash Pasta, Eggplant Lasagna Roll Ups, Easy Vegan Pizza, Garlicky Pesto Breadsticks (for dipping), Vegan Meatballs, Chickpea Bolognese, Lentil Bolognese, and more. Add a dash of Vegan Pesto to the sauce for an even herbier flavor. Or a spoonful of my Vegan Tofu Ricotta or Whipped Almond Ricotta to take it to the creamier side!
If you’re looking for cheesy things to pair with this sauce, be sure to check out my Vegan Parmesan Cheese (the perfect topper for any Italian-inspired dish) and Vegan Mozzarella “Cheese” (layered on top of your favorite pizza).
If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram! We’d love to see what you come up with. Cheers, friends!
Easy 1-Pot Marinara Sauce
- 2 Tbsp olive oil (sub water if avoiding oil)
- 2 large cloves garlic (minced)
- 2 28-ounce cans peeled crushed or diced tomatoes without salt (I prefer San Marzano but use any good organic brand, such as Muir Glen)
- 1 tsp dried or fresh oregano
- 1 Tbsp coconut sugar (or sub stevia or maple syrup to taste // omit if avoiding sugar)
- 3/4 – 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flake (reduce or increase according to spice preference)
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh basil (plus more for serving)
- 1-3 Tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
- 3-4 Tbsp tomato paste (optional // for richness / depth of flavor)
- Heat a large pot over medium-low heat. Once hot, add oil (or water) and garlic. Sauté briefly for 1 minute, stirring frequently, until barely golden brown. Then add tomatoes, oregano, coconut sugar, salt, and pepper flake.
- Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Then reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add basil and stir. Cook for 5 minutes more.
- Taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding more salt for saltiness, oregano or basil for freshness/herbed flavor, pepper flake for heat, or coconut sugar for sweetness. At this time, you can also choose to add nutritional yeast and/or tomato paste for more depth of flavor and richness (optional, but I usually add both).
- If the sauce has thickened too much at this point, thin with a little water. Although I prefer mine thicker and leave it on the thick/chunky side.
- Store cooled leftovers in the refrigerator up to 1 week, or in the freezer up to 1 month.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with oil and without the optional ingredients.
*Recipe makes ~7.5 cups of sauce.