Homemade Marinara, For The Non-Italian Betch

So like, being not-Italian (especially when you grow up in fucking Jerz) is really hard. What’s harder is not automatically knowing how to make things like cannolis or homemade pasta or fucking marinara. Like, don’t get a betch wrong – I KNOW better than to think that shit at Olive Garden (are they out of biz yet? Hurry up and die) is legit, but it still would be nice to have a go-to recipe to commit to memory next time you date and want to impress an Italian pro.

I’ve searched far and wide and executed a recipe that I feel is like, good enough for us – adapted from “Lidia’s Commonsense Italian Cooking,” by Lidia Bastianich. Stop buying canned shit that honestly cannot compare. Enjoy the delicious and LEGIT Italian marinara sauce; for topping carbs and also not carbs, spelled out and explained below:


  • 1 28-oz can San Marzano tomatoes (while yes, they’re canned, raw tomatoes are a pain in the ass to deal with and whole canned tomatoes are minimally processed. Plus, San Marz are really sweet and taste the way good tomatoes should fucking taste)
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (buy the best you can so that when you do taste it, you fucking enjoy it)
  • 7 garlic cloves, peeled and minced (if your garlic has that teeeeny green shoot running down the center, cut it out – it can add bitterness to your sauce)
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes (you need a little zing)
  • 1 bay leaf (because.)
  • Salt, to taste
  • 4-6 large fresh basil leaves, whole (or one really large “sprig”)

Pour tomatoes into a big bowl and crush them into small pieces by hand. To make sure you get ALL the juice out of the can, add a little water and “slosh.” Reserve the whole water.

In a large SKILLET (not your super nice La Creuset pot), heat the olive oil. When it’s hot, add the garlic. As soon as it starts sizzling (if it turns brown, you need to fucking toss it; nothing tastes worse than burnt garlic) add the tomatoes and reserved tomato water. Add the pepper flakes, bay leaf, and salt. Mix the whole concoction together.

Place the basil leaves or sprig into the sauce. Simmer the whole thing until thick and the oil (which will come up to the top) is dark orange. This should take about 15 minutes. Discard the basil, serve.

BAM. This is THE recipe you should commit to memory and like, have in your back pocket at all times. It tastes a million times better than Prego or whatever they’re selling these days and you’ll look super domestic.


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