Simple Marinara Sauce

Before I posted one of my most asked for recipes, I had to do a little research on what to call it first. This is what I learned (from Wikipedia):

Marinara sauce is an Italian-American term for a simple tomato sauce with herbs—mostly parsley and basil—but, contrary to its name (which is Italian for “sailor-style”) without anchovies, fish, or seafood. In Italy, marinara refers to a seafood-based sauce or food and does not imply that tomato is either included or excluded.

I have always assumed marinara sauce to be simple, chunky tomato sauce but I never looked up it’s actual definition. My family is from Sicily and to be honest, I don’t really remember referring to our sauce as “marinara” until we opened up our second restaurant in Florida over 20 something years ago. Our sauce was always “sauce” (not gravy either…just sauce).

My sauce, apparently, is a perfect example of what marinara is. It’s simple that’s for sure, and that’s just the way I like it. I’ve always loved tomato-ey sauces, and I have always asked for an extra scoop over the top while my mom or grandpa set up the plates. That little extra sauce made a nice companion to the extra bread I like to consume during our weekly Sunday pasta lunches. Total perfection I tell you. Nothing better than cleaning up your pasta plate with a chunk of bread.

I put together this quick marinara sauce yesterday for our Sunday lunch, served over whole wheat rotini pasta and accompanied with sun-dried tomato chicken sausages, roasted broccoli and some roasted eggplant. Oh, and don’t forget the Parmesan and red pepper flakes.

Print Recipe

Simple Marinara Sauce


  • 1 32 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes (Italian style or regular is fine)
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • good pinch salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 small handful of fresh basil torn


  1. In a medium sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat and add garlic and onion. Saute for a few minutes until onion starts to soften and all becomes fragrant. Add both cans of tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Season with dried oregano, salt and pepper and stir. Let sauce simmer on low for about 20-25 minutes. Taste for salt along the way and adjust. Add fresh torn basil towards end of cooking time. Serve over warm pasta and enjoy.

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