No really. This is the best and I’m obsessed with it.
I will caveat that this is adapted from the NYT Cooking blog. A friend told me about it and I fell in love with it. It’s so good and seriously, so simple. I think the only way you could possibly fuck this up is if you don’t know how to read.
Here’s the key to any recipe that’s “simple” and contains very few ingredients: make sure they’re good quality ingredients. Use a brand you trust for the canned tomatoes (I use the real San Marzano peeled whole plum tomatoes) and make sure you have really fresh garlic, since that is the base of the flavor in this sauce. And if you’re not a garlic fan…I’m not sure what to tell you. Because this recipe calls for 7 garlic cloves, which is pretty random. Why not 6? No idea. I’ve used 6 before and it tastes the same, but either way, make it garlicky!
I always add oregano (whereas the NYT recipe says optional), and I also add a small can of tomato sauce, a little tomato paste, and a bit of freshly grated parm right at the end. Because cheese is wonderful. It starts to smell like pizza the second the oregano and basil hit the pan. Who wouldn’t love that??
Use a large, semi-deep skillet for this instead of a really deep saucepan or pot. The juices evaporate quicker, and it thickens faster too. You can have this sauce on the table in 20 mins and it will taste like it’s been simmering all day. Bonus? It tastes even better the next day.
Note: for the “tomato water”, just add 1 cup of water to the empty 28 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes and slosh it around a bit. I only use about 1/2 of that usually but you can thin it out more if you want. That way you get the most out of that can of tomatoes!
Easy Marinara Sauce (Adapted from NYT Cooking Blog)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 6-7 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thinly
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 28-oz can whole peeled San Marzano Tomatoes
- 1 8-oz can of tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup tomato water (more if you like it thinner)
- 1/4 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 large fresh basil sprig
- Parmesan cheese, for grating (optional)
- Pour tomatoes in a large bowl and crush with your hands. Don’t chop these or try any shortcuts. Wash your hands and get in there.
- Pour 1 cup water into the tomato can and slosh it around a little to make it like tomato-water. Set aside as you will use it later.
- In your large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When it’s nice and hot, drop in the garlic. DO NOT LET IT BROWN. Just let it come to a nice sizzle, about 30 seconds.
- Once it’s all sizzling, add in the tomato paste and chili flakes. Stir together quickly for another few seconds until fragrant (again being careful not to burn the garlic), then add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, and 1/2 cup of the reserved tomato water.
- Add oregano and salt. Stir gently. Simmer for a minute or two.
- Add the sprig of basil (stem and all) on top like a flower. Let it wilt, and once it starts to wilt, submerge it into the sauce and give it a few gentle stirs.
- Simmer sauce until it’s thickened and oil on the surface becomes a deep orange. About 15-20 minutes. Grate a little fresh parm on top, discard basil and serve over pasta. Yum. You can keep the basil in there just don’t choke on it. Not a good look.
This pasta is cavatelli, and I added a dollop of fresh cold ricotta on top because it’s a wonderful combo. I promise.