Fancy Fresh Marinara Sauce

marinara graphicEvery once in awhile I’ll impress myself by making something from scratch. This doesn’t happen often, so when it does and I love it, I feel the urge to share it with the world! My in-laws have a TON of produce growing in their garden, and let me pick as much as my heart desires. A few days ago I left with bags and bags of tomatoes in tow, and after whipping up a big batch of my favorite homemade salsa, I decided to give marinara sauce a shot. How hard could it be?  

I found a ton of recipes online, and created a hybrid to suit my taste. It has TONS of flavor. I love how this sauce uses just a little honey instead of sugar to tone down the acidity of the tomatoes (my rookie mistake from previous attempts, talk about sour sauce!). I felt fancy making it, like a beautiful old Italian lady dancing around the kitchen. Okay maybe I wasn’t that graceful, but when my husband raved about dinner and told me he felt like he was eating in a restaurant, I felt like a million bucks.

So if you have a bunch of tomatoes from the garden (or the grocery store), here’s how to do it:

  • a few tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/2 onion (chopped)
  • 8 large tomatoes (I used about 12 medium-sized) or 2-3 cans of peeled, diced tomatoes
  • 6 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes


To prep the tomatoes you have a few options. You can peel the fresh tomatoes by dropping them in hot water and then ice cold water, and cut each tomato into quarters. Or you can cut the tomatoes into quarters (skin-on) and throw them in a blender to make a puree. Keep in mind that this will make for a smoother sauce, not chunky like some prefer. Whatever tickles your pickle.

If you want to blanche the skins off, here’s how I did it. Cut the stems out and make a little “X” over that area so the skins can peel off easily when boiled.

Drop tomatoes (I do about 5 at a time) into boiling water for 60-90 seconds. Skins will begin to shrivel. then scoop them out and drop them in ice water. Peel skins off! Now your peeled tomatoes are all ready.

In a big pot, drizzle a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. When oil is heated, add the chopped onion, stir for a few minutes until the onion softens.

Then add the minced garlic, tomatoes, and bay leaf to the pot. When the tomatoes start boiling, reduce heat a little and cook for about 20 minutes.

When tomatoes are very soft, add honey and all other spices to the mixture.


Bring back to a boil, then reduce heat a little and cook until sauce thickens up to the consistency you desire. I served it with chicken parmesan and spaghetti, but I’d also like to use this to make stuffed peppers, lasagna, pizza… Ooh the possibilities!

Zoodles (zucchini noodles) with homemade marinara sauce and organic chicken meatballs

My husband and I LOVE this sauce. I want to make several jars to freeze and give to our parents. This is a staple around here, so I need to make some more ASAP and stock up.

I hope you love this fancy fresh marinara sauce as much as we do! Make sure to also check out my favorite fresh homemade salsa for another delicious way to use up those tomatoes from your garden.

Let me know if you plan on trying this and how it turns out 🙂 bon appetit friends!






4 thoughts on “Fancy Fresh Marinara Sauce

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