This easy marinara sauce is quick enough for a weeknight but tastes like it has been simmering for hours!
If I had my way, we would eat pasta every single night. There are just so many ways to prepare it, with olive oil and veggies, with a red sauce and meatballs, stuffed with ricotta and mozzarella, there are truly endless possibilities. I usually stick to three main sauces. My husband’s favorite is my pomodoro tomato sauce, which simmers all day and is smooth, full of flavor, and rich. My daughter’s favorite is when I use olive oil and garlic. My personal favorite is marinara sauce. I love the chunky tartness of it!
I don’t always have eight hours to simmer sauce on the stove, so I have been looking for a quick and easy marinara sauce. I always come back to Marcela Hazan’s famous tomato sauce which uses minimal ingredients and replaces the olive oil with butter. I have always been intrigued by this sauce, but never tried it. While I wish I could stick to her bare basic approach, I had to add onion and garlic to amp up the flavor, and I am so glad I did. This sauce was amazing. I was eating it out of the pot with a spoon before we even added in the pasta!
This sauce takes about an hour to simmer, which I know isn’t the quickest, but when compared to most tomato sauces, I think it is pretty doable for a weeknight. You can’t skimp on time either. The magic truly happens in the last 15 minutes or so when the sauce really thickens and the tomato chunks start to break up. This sauce is on the tarter side, but feel free to add more sugar if you prefer a sweeter sauce. You also want to use high quality plum tomatoes. Since there are minimal ingredients, you really want the best possible. I love Cento San Marzano tomatoes. Mine has a basil leaf in them, which you can see in the pictures, but I don’t think this is crucial if you have a can without the leaf!
I used to use sauce pots to make my sauce, but I am now swearing by making all my sauces in a cast iron enamel pan. I love the even cooking and how easy they are to clean up after all that simmering! I got Lodge Pans for Christmas and love them!
I really doubted the use of butter here, but I was silly to doubt it! The butter adds a richness that makes the sauce taste like it has cooked much longer than it really has! I know six tablespoons seems like a ton, but I reminded myself that noodles actually have very little fat, so it all balances out right :)?
Looking for a go to chunky tomato sauce recipe? This easy marinara sauce will definitely be my standby for an easy weeknight sauce!
- 2 28 oz. cans san marzano peeled plum tomatoes
- 1/2 medium onion, finely diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 tbsp. unsalted butter
- salt-to taste
- sugar-to taste
- In a heavy sauce pot sauce as cast iron enamel, melt the butter. Once melted, add the onions and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until translucent. Do not let them brown.
- Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds then add the tomatoes.
- Break up the chunks of tomatoes with a spoon and then add 1 tsp. of salt and 1 tsp. of sugar. You can add more later to taste.
- Cook uncovered for 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Check for additional seasonings around the half an hour mark and then again before serving.
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