Marinara Sauce

Spaghetti Squash Marinara

It seems that there are as many marinara sauces as there are cooks on TV. Everyone has a version and all that I’ve tried are equally good. Today I’d like to share a recipe that I learned from a PBS cooking show some 20 years ago.  I’ve long-since forgotten the show/chef’s name but I learned this marinara to serve with a very special lasagna. (You can find the lasagna recipe HERE.) Like any good marinara, this sauce can be used in any number of dishes.

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Marinara Sauce Recipe

total time: approx.  1:45


  • 1 – 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 – 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3 carrots, diced or grated
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 cup dry red wine


  1. Add oil to a medium sauce pan and heat over a medium-high heat. Add pepper flakes and cook for 2 minutes.
  2. Place carrots, celery, and onion into a food processor and run until well-chopped. (This will prevent large chunks of carrot, celery, or onion in your sauce.)
  3. Add chopped carrots, onion, & celery to the pan and sauté until the mixture just begin to caramelize, about 8 to 10 minutes. (If you like, add sliced mushrooms midway through.)
  4. Add garlic, season with salt, pepper, & parsley and sauté for 2 minutes.
  5. Add crushed tomatoes, sauce, marjoram and wine. Stir to thoroughly combine.
  6. Bring to boil, reduce to a soft simmer, and cover.
  7. After 45 minutes, remove cover and continue to simmer for another 45 minutes.
  8. Add basil just prior to serving.


This sauce originally accompanied a lasagna recipe that included mushrooms. That’s why mushrooms aren’t among its ingredients. If you intend to use this recipe for something other than that particular lasagna recipe, feel free to add mushrooms –sliced or otherwise — about 5 minutes after the carrot, onion, & celery have been added. Continue sautéing as indicated above.

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20 thoughts on “Marinara Sauce

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  5. Good stuff! And this is what I’d call a Marinara sauce, too. Although I know some people would object to cooking the sauce that long – they’d be more apt to call this a red sauce — or “basic” tomato sauce 😉 . Of course some of those same people say you shouldn’t combine both garlic and onion in a tomato sauce, which I think is nonsense. I don’t often use marjoram, because I like the in-your-face flavor of oregano. But maybe I should rethink this. Anyway, thanks for this.


    • Hello, John. Yes, I’m aware of the no onion & garlic rule but never pay it any mind. That’s certainly not the case in Le Marche, the area of Italy my family is from. All of the family “chefs” added both to their sauces. We, also, use oregano but only sparingly, if at all. Marjoram is sometimes used and it’s pretty much a hallmark of Marchigiani cooking.
      Thanks, John, for always leaving such great comments.


  6. John, this is a perfect recipe. I wish there was a super like button. I always forget about how good red pepper flakes are in a sauce. One cup of wine sounds really good too 🙂


    • This sauce was intended to be used with a lasagna recipe but I liked it so much that I serve it regularly, especially when I’ve vegetarian friends for dinner. And using only 1 cup of wine will ensure there’s plenty left in the bottle for the cook. 🙂
      Thank you, Judy, for always being so complimentary and encouraging when you leave a comment. I really do appreciate it.


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  8. Lovely sauce, John. I really like the added depth of flavor the red wine brings to the party and the crushed red pepper flakes bring that added touch of heat and character to the sauce. All the way around, a superb sauce.


    • Thanks, Richard. This was a side-benefit of the besciamella-based lasagna recipe. I liked it so much that I use it all of the time now, for the very reasons you mentioned. Thanks for commenting. 🙂


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    • Hi, Liz. I find crushed has a bit more texture and is thicker than sauce. Be sure to check the labels of both. Canned tomato sauce is usually seasoned more than crushed. Hope this helps. 🙂


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