Homemade Marinara Recipe


Marinara is a staple in Italian and Sicilian food. It’s fairly easy to make and there are so many variations of that it can be tailored to fit almost any pasta, vegetarian or meat dish… Perhaps you just want to have a snack and want a good tasting dip for breadsticks.  Follow these recipes and you too will be able to serve up some delightful entrées that will please your family.

Basic Marinara:

  • 4 – 28 oz Cans Italian Style Peeled Plum Tomatoes (I use a company called Tuttorosso)
  • 4 – 26.5 oz Boxes of Chopped Tomatoes (Pomi)
  • 2 – 28 oz Cans Tomato Puree (Tuttorosso)
  • 4 – 6 oz Cans Tomato Paste (Contadina)
  • 56 oz water
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper, julienne
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 4 Tbsp dried oregano or 3 Tbsp Fresh Oregano, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup grate Pecorino Romano cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Using a food processor, blender, an immersion blender or even your hands, puree the chopped tomatoes and peeled tomatoes. In a large stock pot add 1 tsp olive oil and sauté the onions over medium high heat for about 30-60 seconds, then add the garlic, cooking for about 10-15 seconds, just enough to brown the garlic. Quickly add the wine and reduce heat to medium. Add all of the tomato products to the stock pot along with the water. Bring the mixture to a soft boil, then reduce the heat to medium low. Add the remaining ingredients and stir. Cover and cook for a minimum of 4 hours and continue to stir the sauce periodically throughout the cooking process. Don’t cook the sauce for more than 6 hours and no more than 8 hours unless you are using it for lasagna or pizza. Now you have a flavorful marinara to enjoy.

Recipe variations:

  1. Replace oregano with with 6 Tbsp dried basil or 4 Tbsp fresh basil
  2. Replace Romano cheese with an Asiago, Parmigiano-Reggiano (Parmesan) or any type of Italian hard cheese (add accordingly to taste)
  3. Replace water with low sodium vegetable stock
  4. Replace thyme with 2 Tbsp dried rosmary or 2 Tbsp fresh rosemary (use food processor to provide a fine chop of herbs). Be warned that using oregano with rosemary is not a great idea, their flavors tend to clash with one another and will leave your sauce tasting more on a bitter side.

*When using rosemary for sauces, sautéed dishes, compound butters, infused oils or breads/pizza, remember to remove leaves from stem, but it is not necessary to do so if you are making stocks or roasting food.

Wine Examples:

  1. Barolo [great for a sauce if serving over game meat like venison, bear or rabbit] (Italy)
  2. Brunello di Montalcino [perfect for a sauce when serving over rabbit or rich-pasta dishes like baked ziti or lasagna] (Italy)
  3. Conte Priola Pinot Noir [wonderful edition to sauce that’s served over pork and chicken] (Italy)
  4. Colosi Rosso Sicilia [goes great when making a sauce for bear or rabbit] (Sicily)
  5. Cusumano Nero d’Avola Sicilia [a beautiful touch to a marinara that will flow atop grilled lamb or rabbit] (Sicily)
  6. Chateau Bellevue Bordeaux [not only is this a nice wine to drink, but does wonders for a sauce served over pasta dishes] (France)
  7. Chateau La Jorine St. Emilion – Bordeaux [great with a sauce for serving over venison or chicken parmesan] (France)
  8. Luc Pirlet Merlot [like the Bordeaux, this wine enhances the flavor of a marinara that’s be severed on top of pasta] (France)
  9. Alspaldi Rioja Cosecha [compliments the game meat (venison) it’s served with due to the hints of cherry and blackberry] (Spain)
  10. El Prado Tempranillo Cabernet [inexpensive, yet it adds a sublime fruity flavor to a marinara that won’t leave pasta unfinished] (Spain)
  11. Valserrano Rioja Reserva [even though there are Asian spices mixed mix in, it goes surprising well in a pizza sauce] (Spain)

Most of these wines I buy from a local wine dealer, Total Wine, http://www.totalwine.com, which has an exceptional and wide variety of wines, spirits, and beer. Check them out for any of your alcoholic needs, plus the Orlando store has knowledgeable staff and wonderful management.

*NOTE: Now you can change the flavor profile by adding a combination of red wines or using different types of reds. Experiment and come up with your own recipes. These recipes are building blocks for those of you who wish to try new things.

Goda di un gusto della Sicilia!


Other Useful Brown Stocks

These stocks are very useful when you want to enhance the flavor of the dish you are creating. They all follow the base for Brown Veal Stock.

Brown Lamb Stock: The veal bones and trim are replaced by an equal amount of lamb trim and bones. Mint stems, cumin seeds, or rosemary can be added to the standard sachet d’épices; one or more of these herbs should be added.

Brown Game Stock: The veal bones and trim are replaced by and equal amount of game bones and trim. Depending on the dish I am making I will add rosemary, thyme, oregano, or garlic cloves in the sachet d’épices. Remember… With wild game, just think rustic, woody taste.

Brown Pork Stock: The veal bones and trim are replaced by an equal amount of fresh or smoked pork trim and bones. Oregano stems or crushed red pepper can be added to the sachet d’épices. **If using smoked pork bones and trim here is a list of woods to use:

  • Alder
  • Oak
  • Apple
  • Cherry
  • Almond
  • Pear

The woods listed above also go well with beef, game meats (rabbit, venison, alligator, etc..), lamb, poultry and water fowl. Oak, Almond, Apple are good woods for seafood too. Be cautioned that with certain species of trees such as, Maple, Mesquite, Hickory/Pecan  tend to give the food that more of that American BBQ flavor. Pecan is from the same family as hickory, however, it does produce a slightly different taste when it is used to cook or smoke with.


  1. Beef
  2. Chicken
  3. Pork
  4. Lamb
  5. Mildly flavored game meat (rabbit, etc…)
  6. Seafood steaks (Swordfish, shark, tuna steaks)

 Pecan (does not go as well with game meat as hickory does):

  1. Beef
  2. Chicken
  3. Lamb
  4. Pork
  5. Duck


  1. Pork
  2. Chicken
  3. Duck
  4. Lamb
  5. Venison


  1. Chicken
  2. Duck
  3. Rabbit
  4. Pork
  5. Lamb
  6. Venison


*Please remember that not every type of tree can be used for cooking. Some give off toxic fumes when burned or will leave your food tasting like the contents of the entrails of the animal you slaughter…Not a good idea! There are great woods out there for cooking and some just for survival, we’ll stay away from the latter.

Chicken Stock

Chicken Stock:

  • 8 lbs chicken bones
  • 1 sachet d’épices
  • 2 tsp salt (I use coarse sea salt)
  • 1 lb mirepoix (8 oz onion, 4 oz carrot, 4 oz celery), medium-dice
  • 1 gallon cold water


  1. Heat a stockpot over medium high heat, then add mireproix.
  2. After rinsing bones under cool running water, place them in a stockpot.
  3. Add cold water and salt, then slowly bring the stock to a simmer and depouillage (skim surface) when needed. *the water should cover approx. 2 inches of the bones.
  4. Simmer the stock for 4 to 6 hours, tasting periodically and depouillage as necessary.
  5. Finally, Strain the stock. It can be used now or stored for later use, but if it stored it needs to be rapidly cooled.

**Safe methods for cooling:

  1. Ice-water bath – easy and commonly used method. Divide food into smaller containers, then place containers in a sink or large pot filled with ice water, stirring the stock to cool more evenly and faster.
  2. Ice paddle – Plastic ice paddles are a great and easy way to cool stock. They can be filled with ice or filled with water and then frozen, if you have a big enough freezer.

These methods can be combined for even faster cooling.