Recipe for My Grandmother's Marinara Sauce

To my faithful readers who have been patient with me, I'll finally explain why I took a long break from blogging. My grandfather recently died and my life has been in a bit of a frenzy with work, love, family, and a funeral. In memory of my grandfather, who loved this tomato sauce recipe so much, I am going to share with you my version of my grandmother's spaghetti sauce.

My grandmother usually used a mixture of stewed tomatoes, tomato paste, and tomato puree from a can to make this. However, I have multitudes of fresh tomatoes from my garden to use for this. I have adapted the recipe to call for fresh tomatoes, which was probably the origin of the recipe anyway.

You can use a food mill (pictured right) or tomatoes concasse as explained in my gazpacho recipe to make this. For ideal texture, use both. I chose to essentially juice my tomatoes this time, since most of my harvest was made up of small tomatoes which don't produce much flesh after skinning and de-seeding. The method of getting the tomatoes into the pot is less important than simply reducing the sauce for a long time. It should be very rich, dark, and thick when it's ready.

Grandma's Marinara Sauce

In a large non-aluminum stock pot, saute:

4 Tbsp olive oil  
1 small onion, chopped  
4 cloves garlic

When the onions are starting to brown, add:

2 tsp dry or 1 Tbsp fresh oregano
2 tsp dry or 1/3 cup fresh basil
1 tsp salt (if your tomato liquid is already salted, add less salt)
1/2 tsp black pepper

Saute everything for another minute. Add:

8-10 cups tomatoes concasse and/or juiced tomatoes

Simmer for several hours, stirring every half hour until the sauce thickens and becomes dark and rich. Taste it and adjust seasonings as desired. You can add water at any time if it's too thick. If desired, add some browned meat balls and/or sausage 1/2 hour before you are done cooking. Serve over your favorite gluten-free pasta.


Lindsay Kelley said…
ooh, i'm excited to try this. grandma's sauce is the best. i hope i get to see you soon, w/o a funeral context. any more photo conferences in sf?
Lauren said…
I'm sorry about your grandfather. The marinara sauce looks delicious =D.
Brian said…
Thanks for sharing the marinara recipe. Sorry to hear about your grandfather.
Nadya said…
Blessings on your grandfather's passing! Fun to see you take this family favorite back to its beginnings, fresh tomatoes!
Rebecca said…
I have been cooking marinara sauce without tomato paste for years. But the last time I made it, I also used garden tomatoes, and it was really, really watery. I happened to have some tomato paste lying around and I added it. The sauce thickened instantly! So if you are short on time it's worth trying. The sauce tasted good in the end--not tomato-pasty as you might imagine.
Lori P said…
I'll have to bookmark the marinara recipe - it looks delicious. So sorry to hear about your grandfather's passing.
Iris said…
I'm so sorry for your loss. I know how special Grandpa's are!
Linda said…
I'm sorry to hear about your grandfather. Thanks for sharing this recipe. It's a nice way to remember him. I was just thinking today how most things taste much better when made from scratch.
I'm so sorry that you lost your grandfather, Gina.

This sauce looks wonderful. I absolutely love that first photo of your tomatoes.

clklmft said…
I made grandma's recipe with fresh tomatoes from the garden and also with tomatoes and tomatoe paste I had canned. The one thing I do (Did-haven't made this in years since I don't eat much pasta these days) is cook the sausage in the pot first and add the ingrediants to the sausage in the order you mentioned. Actually I don't put onion in the sauce but it sounds good!
Gina said…
That's a good idea, Mom, thanks! For some reason I thought you usually did put onions in it. I think the one time Grandma showed me how to make it she used onions, but now I'm not sure. They certainly don't hurt, though!
Just had to stop back in to say how sweet I think it is that your mom reads and comments on your blog! :-)

Anonymous said…
I am sorry about your grandfather.... this marinara sauce looks great! I will be giving it a try soon!

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