1/8/2017: Marinara

I decided that there were a few things I need to make very well this year. Among them are an excellent marinara sauce, and pignoli cookies. There were a couple more, but I can’t for the life of me remember what they were now that I’m sitting here.

My thinking is: Start with a basic recipe and “do one thing different” until I dial it in.  It’s worked wonderfully for recipes I’ve developed over the past 35 years. (NOT that there are so many. But the ones I’ve got I’ve got down.)

So yesterday I started with this marinara recipe (I’m just pasting it in here. But here’s the original link:


“This is a very easy homemade red sauce, and the only one my 5 year old daughter will eat! Serve with your favorite pasta.”


  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans stewed tomatoes
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup finely diced onion
  • 1/2 cup white wine


  1. In a food processor place Italian tomatoes, tomato paste, chopped parsley, minced garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat saute the finely chopped onion in olive oil for 2 minutes. Add the blended tomato sauce and white wine.
  3. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Now, I made some modifications right off the bat:

  1. Double it….because duh.
  2. clearly they meant “head” of garlic.
  3. crushed tomatoes. (I really can’t stand overly chunky sauce.)  I picked up a couple different brands, figuring that I could take the opportunity to pick one over the other
  4. I used a whole white onion, cooked down to what was probably a bit over a cup of onion.  Which, seeing as how I doubled the recipe to start with, isn’t SO much over.  But I really love my onion and garlic.

And that’s really it.

It came out good…not great…good.   I was pretty thrilled, as it was more than I expected.

But it was SO sweet, which puzzled me.  Far too sweet.  The only two things I can think of is:

  • The tomato paste was just a bit too much.  That always tastes too sweet to me.
  • MAYbe I went to far in pre-cooking the onions and caramelized them to such an extent that it was the culprit.  But that…sounds hollow to me.

But in the spirit of “do one thing differently” I’m going to cut the tomato paste in half next time.  Hopefully that’ll get me there.  But if not, then I’ll do a couple experiments on that batch like splitting it into a control and a couple tests, then add some lemon juice and see if I can’t bring it back a bit.

Maybe, in the meantime, I’ll make another batch of fresh pasta to eat with it.  (I didn’t go home for Thanksgiving, so I just stayed here and made myself dinner.  I made ricotta from scratch, then home-made pasta and ravioli.  It. Was. Amazing.  BUT, I’d never made sauce up until today, so I ate it with jarred sauce.  My great grandmothers rolled in their graves, no doubt.  But it’s a mistake I won’t make twice.)

I should probably start the pignoli cookies next weekend, but I think I’m going to try putting down a gallon of bochet.

But now…bed. o7