Mama’s Marinara Sauce

Me and my family are very in touch with our Italian roots (I’m 100% Italian with a pinch of South American) and we love our pasta. I have always watched my mom and grandma in the kitchen making delicious food for me and now I want to do that myself. Since, I had a snow day today, I asked my mom to teach me how she makes her signature marinara sauce. It is so flavorful and is perfect for those of you out there who are not fond of the taste of tomatoes. Adding plenty of onions and garlic adds a special taste to the sauce that is not in many jarred sauces or other recipes. My mom has a couple of tips to help make it come out right, and taste the same, every. single. time.

The first one is to add A LOT  of onions and garlic. Many recipes are stingy with these two ingredients because they do not want them to overpower the tomatoes, but this leaves the sauce tasting like pureed tomatoes. The key is to add these ingredients together and sauté them before adding them to the sauce in order to release the flavors and soften them a bit. This prevents them from being too strong.

Another thing that makes my mom’s marinara sauce special is that she uses the Pomi tomatoes, which are tomatoes in a cardboard box. My mom uses these for multiple reasons. They are better quality tomatoes than the ones in the can that are always on sale. They have a pure, fresh taste and don’t taste like they have been preserved. Another reason she uses them is the fact that they are in cardboard instead of an aluminum can. There are ingredients used to make the cans that can seep into the food that is contained in them. This is not really that bad but, if you do use the cans, just do your research and see which one you would prefer. I am going to warn you, the boxed tomatoes are more expensive so I would recommend using both to save some money and at the same time do something better for your body.

Another tip from my mom is to give the sauce time to cook. Leaving it in the pot for 20 minutes is not going to cut it. The flavors need time to mix together and combine in order for it to taste the same throughout the whole sauce. This also helps with decreasing the strength of the onions and garlic as well and makes the sauce taste uniform.

Although I say that you need to give the sauce time, it is also bad to leave it for too long. This causes all the liquid in the sauce to evaporate, thickening the sauce. It is good for a sauce to be thick, but it still needs some liquid or else it will be too dry. Sauce is all about preference. If you prefer a liquid-y sauce, cook if for a shorter amount of time. If you prefer a thick and chunky sauce, cook it for a longer amount of time. In the beginning, just check on it once in a while, making sure to stir it every couple of minutes to stir every couple of minutes, which is something they always fail to mention in the recipe books to see when the texture is right for you.

After she cooks up the sauce, she puts it into bowls to freeze for a later use. When she is ready to use it, she does not take out all the sauce. She only takes out what she needs because it starts to lose it’s flavor the more you reheat it. She then heats it up in a sauce pan and adds some kalamata olives to it. She does not do this all the time, but it adds some more flavor and saltiness to the sauce which is sometimes missing because of the limited amount of ingredients.

And then you just have to plate it up and serve with a little pecorino romano cheese grated on top.

Voila! You can use any pasta that you want, I used orecchiette, and you can even put it on chicken, veal or beef. If you want the step by step recipe, keep scrolling!

Have a glamorous day!
xoxo G


1-2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil (Preferably, extra virgin olive oil)
2- 28 ounce boxes, or cans, of tomatoes
1 yellow onion (needs to make ¾ cup when roughly chopped)
2 garlic cloves
Basil (fresh is preferred, but canned is what I used)
Black Pepper
handful of kalamata olives

1. Roughly chop the onion so it fills the ¾ cup. Keeping the onions big helps the flavors marinate easier. Mince the garlic as small as possible so the pieces almost dissolve into the sauce when cooked.
2. Pour the olive oil into a saucepan over medium-high heat and heat it for about 30 seconds. Then, pour in the onions and garlic and sauté for about 2 minutes until the onions are translucent and the garlic is browned.
3. Pour in the 2 cans of tomatoes and cook for about 45 minutes to an hour until it has reached the consistency you prefer and the flavors have combined.
4. This part is optional, but you can take a handful of kalamata olives and heat them up in a saucepan over medium-low heat for about 30 seconds
5. Add your pasta of choice (use whole wheat for extra health points!) to a bowl of boiling water and cook for the times as stated on the box.
6. Add as much sauce as you want into the saucepan and heat thoroughly for about 1-2 minutes or until the flavors have combined and the sauce has reheated.
7. The last thing you have to do is combine the pasta with the sauce, pour a serving into a bowl, and eat up!
8. I also add some grated pecorino romano cheese and a pinch of fresh basil on the top for extra flavor.