Mother Sauces-Part One Marinara and Just a Little Tease From the Farmer’s Market!

It’s that time of year again in the North East, school will be starting in the next few weeks!! Normally you wouldn’t think I would be happy, but I am.  I have missed my girls and missed cooking for them!  With the start of the year we will be getting right back to our culinary program to start its second year, I am excited!!  This year I already have 13 trained students!
I will be able to do so much more with them this year. As I did last year I will start my new students with safety and sanitation lessons, knife skills doing prep work ( cutting potatoes, onions, celery, and carrots), and the Mother sauces.   
I always start with my favorite, and probably the one I use the most Marinara Sauce, which got its name from the sea or Mariner’s Sauce.

Wikipedia says “Cooks aboard Neapolitan ships invented marinara sauce in the mid-1500’s after the Spaniards introduced the tomato ( a New World Vegetable) to Europe.  This meat free sauce was easy to make and  resisted spoiling due to the high acid content of the tomatoes.  This made it ideal for lengthy sea voyages hundreds of years before refrigeration methods were invented. “

Now in Italy you will usually hear it referred to as Salsa al Pomodoro, as Marinara refers more to a specific pasta dish.  Traditionally Marinara was a quick sauce, something prepared aboard ship with their limited resources, it should be bright red and cooked just long enough to cook the tomatoes. It is a very fresh sauce.   (That being said there are as many family Tomato sauce recipes as there are Italian Families, mine is just one passed on to me.)
Now I have to admit that I rarely make a classical Marinara, but more of a cooked tomato sauce, I do like to start my sauce at home with a little sweet sausage ( my wife loves good sweet sausage).  When Mama Jeanette taught me the secret to good tomato sauce she used pork bones for flavor, and simmered her sauce for at least 3 hours.   This is still my favorite type of sauce, slow cooked allowed to build flavor.  Mama Jeanette would let me have some the when it was finished the first day, but her rule was to let it set for 24-48 hours before serving to guests, that way the flavors would really develop.  When I make Tomato Sauce at home, we do eat it the first day, but I let it set 2-3 days before freezing the remainder( I usually use 2 #10 cans of tomatoes when I make sauce at home).  And please in Italy they do not call Tomato Sauce Gravy!  Gravy is usually brown and served over meats…….that is one thing living in Philadelphia that makes me cringe when I hear it…..sigh……
At School I do not add any meats to keep it vegetarian but I do allow it to cook for about 3 hours, if you can afford the time I would suggest doing it that way.   Here is my basic Marinara Sauce recipe, you will notice that there is no Oregano!!  Mama Jeanette would tell me “sonny boy, oregano is for the pizza”.   Of course feel free to have fun with your fresh herbs.

Marinara Sauce
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: sauce
Cuisine: Italian
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic chopped
  • 2 28-32 oz Cans Crushed Tomato (San Marizano)
  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • 1 small onion finely diced
  • ½ cup Olive Oil
  • 1-2 teaspoons sugar
  • Sea Salt and Pepper to taste
Rosa Sauce
  • 32 oz Tomato Sauce
  • 16 oz Heavy Cream ( use light cream or a combination of cream and Greek yogurt)
  • 1 Cup Grated Romano Cheese
  1. In a large skillet or small sauce pot, sauté diced onion and chopped garlic in olive oil until onions are translucent, do not allow them to burn!
  2. Add crushed tomatoes, rinse cans with just a little water and add to the sauce (if crushed tomatoes are not available use whole tomatoes and crush by hand or with an immersion blender).
  3. add chopped basil, sugar, sea salt and black pepper to taste (don’t over season you can always add more later).
  4. After your sauce has reached a boil, reduce the heat to low, a simmer for 15-20 minutes for classical Marinara / simmer for 1-3 hours for a rich hearty Tomato Sauce.
Rosa Sauce
  1. add in cream, and grated romano cheese to the marinara. mix well and allow to simmer until hot.

If you have never used San Marizano Tomatoes, you don’t know what you are missing!  They are less acidic, and have a great flavor, coming from the Pompeii area of Italy. I am currently buying Cento brand in #10 cans from my Wegman’s, they are even DOP Certified!   I use to always buy the jars of Cento Passata and crushed tomatoes, I hate opening cans!
To properly serve your pasta, cook it to the directions on the box, you want it to be aldente’ , pasta was meant to be chewed, so it should not be too soft!  Unless you are storing your pasta and reheating prior to serving, never oil your pasta!!!  Oiling your pasta will only make it harder for your sauce to adhere to the pasta……adding oil to your cooking water is just a waste of oil!  But you do want to make sure you add salt to the water.   Folklore says the slat was added so the water was like the Mediterranean…..sigh…..I tell my girls that one in my best Italian accent.  Adding salt to your pasta water before you cook it allows you to season your pasta some so it is not too bland.   Now to properly serve your pasta with red sauce, toss your pasta with just enough red sauce to coat the pasta.  If you like a little more sauce add it to the top of your pasta.   Now is also a good time to add a drizzle of your best Olive Oil, adding the oil now allows you to taste the full flavor of the oil!  Have some freshly grated Romano cheese and you are ready to enjoy a plate of pasta the way it was meant to be served.  Add sausage or meatballs if you like, or make a nice vegetarian sauce full of garden fresh vegetables! 

My girls favorite sauce is a Rosa or you may have heard it called a Vodka or Blush sauce.  Personally I do not like the flavor of vodka in my sauce, vodka was always my alcohol of choice in my younger days so its not that I don’t like vodka, its just that I don’t think the taste adds anything to the sauce.  The only addition to make it a great Rosa is Cream and Romano Cheese.   I have even substituted Greek Yogurt for half of the cream, you almost can’t tell the difference!

Here are a few teasers from my Farmer’s market purchase this week!   They are both Eggplant, the bright orange was called “Festive Eggplant” which I have now been informed is “Turkish Orange Eggplant“, and the little white balls were called “Christmas Tree Ball Eggplant” or “Thai Eggplant“……..I have never seen anything like them before, how cool are they!!   Now you have to wait until Friday to see what I am making with them.

My wife was in the mood for Sangria, she had brought home some white wine, so I got out some fruit that I had on hand, Watermelon, cherries, nectarines, raspberries, and an orange.
I used about 3 cups of fruit all together, about 6 cups of white wine, 1/2 cup of Pomegranate Liquor, and a 1/2 cup of Organic Italian vodka.  I also added about a 1/2 cup of superfine sugar (if you don’t have superfine you can pulse your sugar in a food processor just a bit, it makes it easier to dissolve) feel free to adjust the sugar to taste, or use another sweetener, I don’t like it too sweet, but it does need some sugar.   I have to say my wife absolutely loved this Sangria, as did our neighbor, but after to wine glasses she was a little tipsy….lol…..lets just say she slept very well that night!  So if this is too much alcohol for you add your favorite fruit juice to it to dilute it, or just leave out the vodka.    But hey it summertime, relax have a glass of Sangria and enjoy the sunset!!! 


  1. Ana Powell says:

    Wow, how beautiful.
    I have never seen aubergines like yours before.
    So perfect, lovely colour and shape.
    Great post ♥

  2. julialikesred says:

    Hi Dennis!

    Isn't it funny the different names veggies have – I know those bright orange beauties as Turkish Eggplants. Ate some this weekend – slightly floral taste to the flesh. Awesome.

  3. Cool Lassi(e) says:

    Lovely Sauce and awesome pictures!

  4. Chef Dennis says:

    Thanks for the update Julia,They may have felt funny calling them Turkish Eggplants in little old Collingswood…lol

  5. julialikesred says:

    Ha! For all we know, they were "rebranded" Turkish here to up the wow-factor. Can't wait to see what you do with them 🙂

  6. Allie and Pattie says:

    Dennis, I had to laugh. My best friend and I have a running argument as she was raised in a home where it was GRAVY! In our house, that was sacrilegious! LOL My Nonna always flavored the sauce with pork, beef and lamb for a touch of the sweetness. There's nothing better!
    xoxo Pattie

  7. the constant hunger says:

    I also prefer low and slow cooking my tomato sauce. I don't use onion, but I think I will try next time. And your farmer's market finds are incredible. Can't wait to see what you come up with!

  8. sara @ CaffeIna says:

    I loved your marinara sauce story! Very accurate! Marinara is also a type of pizza. Despite Margherita (the basic tomato sauce+mozzarella) being the most famous abroad many Italians just like it marinara….simple, made with good tomatoes. Once I asked my mom how could she possibly make such a good marinara sauce and she also told me to leave it on low flame for at least two three hours and then use it the next day! Ohhhh moms! They are always right!

  9. Thanks for those sauce recipes! I've always wanted to know some basics that I could easily toss with some pasta for a quick dinner (unless I spend 3 hours simmering the marinara, that is). 😀

  10. lequan@luvtoeat says:

    Wow! Your sauce looks beautiful with that vibrant red colour! I can definitely see the difference some love and time makes to a dish/sauce. Although there aren't many ingredients, this looks like a sauce that is waiting to blast your tastebuds with a mouthful of deliciousness.

    I love that you're starting your students out with safety and sanitation lessons, knife skills doing prep work and the Mother sauces. Some people may find it tedious but I would love a lesson on proper knife skills and how to cut an onion the professional way.

    I've never seen those eggplants before. Can't wait to see what you do with them Chef Dennis. Oh and I love that wine glass.   

  11. sweetlife says:

    I can imagine your excitement. A new year, new adventures in the kitchen with your girls..have fun and I hope you and your girls many flavorful dishes…perfect sauce, love the pics


  12. Brownieville Girl says:

    I was sure that was going to be a Bloody Mary at the end of the post!!!!

    I got a huge white aubergine (eggplant) in my veg box this week – look forward to seeing what you do with yours.

    Fab photos!

  13. mangiabella says:

    Dennis! that is SO similar to my marinara recipe that everyone asks me for, the only difference is I don't use onions – and I use chile pequin (crushed red pepper) in mine, just a 1/2 tsp if i use one can of crushed tomatoes and 1 tsp if I use two – I just love that little kick it gives it – AWESOME! That Sangria is a MUST try for me – I AMORE sangria – it is my ultimate summer sip with the gals 🙂

  14. Pacheco Patty says:

    I'm in the mood for Sangria now that I just finished reading your post, thanks a lot, LOL! The homemade Marinara sauce looks fantastic, so simple but so good and I agree that there are so many great things to do with it. Nice way to kick off the culinary year, good luck;-)

  15. Your marinara sauce looks wonderful! Will follow your recipe the next time I decide to do my own sauce.

    Thanks for sharing :0)

  16. As always, I loved the story about your marinara sauce! And the recipe looks great, too.
    I would love to try your unusual eggplants, too!

  17. scrambledhenfruit says:

    Those eggplant are lovely, as is your sauce. Thanks!

  18. wendy @ ABCs and Garden Peas says:

    I need to learn to make a good sauce. Mine is passable, but I'll bet yours is fantastic! Someday, I'd love to hear my son say, "Nothing is as good as my mom's sauce!" I'd do my Italian ancestors proud…

    I think every season is a good season for sangria! WOO!

  19. Marcellina says:

    I love your sauce! I will add pork bones next time I make it – I never have!

  20. Chef, your students are one lucky gals! I'd love to get some lessons too. And those beautiful vegetables. I have never seen such an eggplant! I love your sauce recipe too and your explanations.

  21. From the Kitchen says:

    I've never seen the orangish eggplant. Lovely to look at! Delicious to eat? I'm intrigued by the sauces and will definitely be trying them. I usually start loading up on tomatoes in another week to roast and make into sauces for the happiness of the winter "bears".


  22. Dionne Baldwin says:

    You know, it's kinda funny that you posted this because I spent the whole weekend racking my brain on how to make a good red sauce. 🙂 And low and behold it was on your blog all along. (I don't like the sauce that I make from scratch! I'll make yours.)

    That sangria would hit the spot…gonna make one with what I have and go play a game with the kiddos…heeheehee.

  23. Wendy Irene says:

    I loved learning about Marinara sauce! Thanks for teaching me 🙂 I have never made a Rosa sauce but I love it! Thanks for the recipe, now I can make it!

  24. Hi Dennis,
    What a wonderful lesson learnt from you. I always add olive oil to the cooked pasta after it comes out of the boiling water. My logic is that I don't want it to stick together when it cools down…now I know I must never do are right , the sauce will not adhere to the pasta if done this way. Thanks for the tips. I enjoy coming here for I know I will well enriched by your every post. Love your blog and love your basic marinara sauce !

  25. One thing I never got used to in the South was kids starting school in early August. Here in the Northeast, we start the Wednesday after Labor Day. That's just the way it is.

    Ah, eggplants. I know I made you laugh putting the eggplant in my daughter's friend's purse, right? She told me once I had to use fresh tomatoes for red sauce, but she did confess that mine, very similar to yours, is good. I felt it was a great compliment. I'll have to try the cream added to it.

  26. Jess @ Bakericious says:

    Hi Chef Dennis, thanks for the lesson, I have learnt alot from here 🙂

  27. I don't think I have ever seen Aubergines like that! They are beautiful. Also love the simplicity of your sauce and the pictures of everything!

  28. Wow Dennis, I never knew Marinara could sound so romantic and full of history! I loved reading this post, it made me crave that simple pasta. And those eggplants are so divine! What colors! You did a great job capturing them.

  29. I never leave your blog hungry. That sauce looks absolutely heavenly! Your pictures are gorgeous as well. I hope your return to school goes smooth, it sounds like you have a fun year planned with the girls!

  30. Really really good tomato sauce is hard to come by, but once you master it you will be able to feed yourself for a lifetime. I'm so glad you teach it to your girls first!

  31. T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types says:

    That is a mother of a sauce! I could dive right in! Also, LOVE the orange eggplant!

  32. I'll have to try pork bones in my sauce. Those eggplants are beautiful. I saw the red ones and thought, tomatoes!

  33. baking.serendipity says:

    Love the homemade sauce and definitely the sangria. I could go for a little of both! 🙂

  34. Mmmm San Marizano. Yummmmmmm. I love those tomatoes. This is really similar to what I make, except that I tend not to measure 😉 And use more garlic. Yum!

  35. Sushma Mallya says:

    love the deep red colour of the sauce, nice recipe too chef..thanks for sharing, will surely try…

  36. A glass of Sangria sounds like a great way to end my first week in graduate school! I'm sure your girls are looking forward to cooking again with you (and eating all of your wonderful food)! Thanks for sharing this lovely marinara recipe. I have not made sauce at home (which is a shame!) and there is no chef that I trust more than you!

  37. Torviewtoronto says:

    the sauce looks delicious

  38. Speakeasy Kitchen says:

    The red eggplants are gorgeous! They remind me of persimmons… I look forward to when that season comes around (quite frankly, I could use a break from the heat and the copious tomatoes it brings!).

  39. My classic tomato sauce is a lot like yours 🙂 And I also was taught to flavor a good sauce you start with pork bones (one of the best tips I ever received in Italian cooking). I like the idea of using greek yogurt in place of the heavy cream. I will definitely have to try that next time I make a vodka sauce! Though wouldn't you know it, my picky eater at home isn't that fond of "orange" sauces…or better said, any red sauce that has cream in it…grrrrr…you'd think I had kids!!

  40. Chef Dennis, you sound like a great culinary teacher. I know that I would love to learn from you, but I guess I kind of am! That marinara looks and sounds delish! I am also just amazed at how pretty and unusual those eggplants are from the farmer's market.

  41. penny aka jeroxie says:

    Festive eggplants??? Those are so loveable. I wish we had some here.

  42. Looks like cooking and eating and drinking fun in your house, Dennis! You are such a good cook, it has to be celebration there everyday 😀 Love all your pictures. Everyone of them would make a very beautiful wall picture in my house 😀 I hope you will give some photography tips.

  43. thecompletecookbook says:

    I hope you will be kind enough to do a post on your knife skills lesson soon.
    I do love your sauce recipes – simplicity at it's best.
    🙂 Mandy

  44. What gorgeous photos and sauces! Mhm! Also your sangria is extraordinarily creative – I would never use those ingredients in a sangria, but I'm a bit of a sangria purist. It sounds delicious, though.

    Whenever I make bolognaise sauce I do the same – I cook it for as long as possible (two days is the most I've done!), let it sit and then freeze it into handy portion-sizes. Best way to do it.

    Jax x

  45. Clean, simple, great ingredients, that's what a marinara sauce makes. Here it is made the same way and stored in bottles for winter. But with all the bad weather we have been going through all around the planet this season, floods and rain tomatoes are very expensive this year so there will be less sauce for the winter.

  46. denise @ quickies on the dinner table says:

    That sounds like a great marinara sauce – the kind ready to work some serious kitchen magic with whatever it goes on 🙂

    I have to agree about vodka sauce – I never thought the vodka added anything appreciable. When you think about it, vodka is after all, pretty tasteless!! I think I will like your version much more!!

  47. tasteofbeirut says:

    These eggplants are adorable! Amazing what farmers are coming up with these days! In Lebanon, they also do a traditional eggplant jam, believe it or not.

  48. BEAR's Mom says:

    Love the sauce recipe…i'll never crack open a jar of spaghetti sauce again 😀

    Your photos are A.W.E.S.O.M.E.

    Have a great day!


  49. I love your lessons from Mama! When you have the time, pork bones to enrich, don't they? Why DO some people (even Italians) call it gravy!?! And why can't I get your tomatoes over here!?!

  50. Great advice! And I couldn't agree more about the oregano–one of my pet peeves about 'Italian' food made abroad!

  51. The Mom Chef says:

    Absolutely gorgeous. Thank you so much for sharing us with. Did you see that I used the dressing? Check the Champagne and Strawberries cake blog.

  52. Salsa Verde says:

    Fantastic colours, amazing shapes and fabulous result with the tomato sauce. Sangria?? Well, I'm on the mood too…

  53. the marinara looks delicious,i learned a lot of things in this post,thanks for sharing !


    What gorgeous veggies! I love making sauces in the early fall…it just seems like the right thing to do!

  55. Sprinkled with Flour says:

    This sauce looks beautiful. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  56. Lazaro Cooks! says:

    Solid information my friend. Best of luck with the start of school. I know you are looking forward to it.

    Be well,

  57. Savory Sweet Living says:

    I don't usually make marinara sauce, but after reading your post, I may have to try. Although I do love a good meat sauce and use almost the same recipe except adding some ground pork and sausage. Also thank you for debunking the myth of Italians calling tomato sauce gravy. It really didn't make sense to me either, but all the Italian Americans I know swear that's what real Italians call their sauce.

  58. mysimplefood says:

    Will try your marinara sauce! Love your tips and I must say the sangria looks absolutely beautiful.

  59. lifeinarecipe says:

    Perfection is found in the simplicity of a sauce such as your Marinara. Yours looks so mouthwatering that I think I have just decided what I will be making for dinner tonight!
    Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  60. whatsfordinneracrossstatelines says:

    That gravy myth must have started on t.v. or something, I've never heard it called that from any Italians I know. Lovely sauce, but quit teasing and show me the eggplants. Alright I will be patient! Have a great day!

  61. what a beautiful simple, refined sauce!

  62. Subterfuge Diva says:

    Dennis, living in Asia, I'm used to seeing Thai eggplants but oh, those orange eggplants just leave me breathless! And did somebody here say they taste somewhat floral?
    Ok, that's it. I'm holding my breath till I see how you're going to serve these up on Friday!

  63. Your sauces look so fresh and delicious! I have a bunch of fresh tomatoes from a farm in Wisconsin and some fresh basil from my back yard, and I'm excited to try your marinara recipe. And I agree on how great the San Marizano tomatoes are! I just wish they were easier to find!

  64. Christmas ball eggplants! I want your farmer's market! I always do a marinara with pork neck bones. I feel vindicated – I was taught well. And oregano is indeed for pizza. (Or clams oreganata). Gorgeous, gorgeous post!

  65. Your tomatoes are simply beautiful! I love the tip about subsituting Greek yogurt for the cream in the Rosa Sauce. Your blog is honestly one of the best out there. Thanks so much for taking the time to write it up.

  66. Great idea for Sangria – I have been known to partake in a glass or two myself lol. Thanks very much for your get well wishes too, much appreciated.

  67. I definitely thought the orange eggplants were your tomatoes! Haha. 🙂

    Thanks for the lovely recipe – I actually use a trick in tomato sauce where I use just a *touch* of butter instead of EVOO. It sounds strange but oh my god it's amazing. I swear!

  68. That sounds LIke a great TIme…(Love wine lol) Thanks for sharing…i wrote that sauce reciepe down…that one I am sure i cannot mess up. ( or so I hope not)

    GREAT Pics as usual : )

    happy tuesday!

  69. I would love to be your student or to have your job. I can only imagine why you are happy to be going back to work.
    I finally was able to buy some San Marizano Tomatoes and they are just fantastic to make the tomato sauce a few notches better.
    Your photos are life like.
    Love reading you; sorry so late to comment; I was away for a few days.

  70. Dare I admit that I am coveting any and all of that beautiful eggplant? And I agree with you on the vodka. Nothing beats a great simple San Marzano sauce. I grow my own and I will never go back to using any other variety.

  71. Tanantha @ I Just Love My Apron says:

    Oh wow great Marinara sauce! That's so cool that you host a culinary class for the girls. I would love to be your student and learn about knife skills 😀

    Are those eggplants? Really?! That Thai eggplants, I can live with those but the Turkish, they look like tomatoes!

    Beautiful Sangria you have there. You should join Denise's cocktail challenge Dennis!

  72. Well Dennis, I'm so pleased to have viewed your post…mostly because I couldn't stop gawking at those adorable eggplants. You're really getting quite amazing at choosing and photographing your subjects.

    BTW…my 'Nonna' would put dried raisins in her meatballs which would not only sweeten the sauce but would also eliminate the acidity ;o)

    Ciao for now,

  73. I love your sauce recipes. I always cheat and use the store bought one. I never know if I have the ratios right.

  74. what a perfectly flavorful and adaptable sauce. thanks for an informative post, dennis!

  75. I love coming here I always learn something new! Gorgeous sauce, makes me drool!

  76. I love everything you create! That's so neat that you teach kids at such young age something that's taking me years to figure out.

    Beautiful pics and recipe!

  77. I love the history behind the marinara sauce. Who knew?! Both sauces are lovely. I make vodka-less vodka sauce, too. It's one of my favorites…now I will call it "Rosa" …so much easier than vodka-less vodka 🙂

    I am so intrigued by those eggplants. They are beautiful!

    I am working on the Gerard's recipe…this has been a hectic week, but will have it posted by next week. Thanks again for those.

  78. Laury@TheFitnessDish says:

    Dennis, THANK YOU SO MUCH for this yummy sauce recipe 🙂

    I come from an Italian family…and I have my Nona's sauce, but my hubby is SO picky, he likes it (its delish) but, he doesn't like it "chunky" this looks like its just the right consistency..and I am a sucker for tomato and basil 😉

    I am so happy to hear you love your job so much!! I am sure it shows in your food….everything tastes better with love 🙂

  79. Baking Barrister says:

    That is such a rich beautiful sauce. I've been meaning to make my own, but never get around to it. I'd be all about the sausage, too 😉

  80. wow..i've never seen turkish orange egg plant like that. interesting and love the colors too!!!!!!!

  81. citymouse says:

    When you were writing about making the red sauce I couldn't help but think about my mother. Her sauce was legendary (but she never had a written recipe). I know I make mine differently (she wasn't a big garlic fan) but making sauce (and letting it simmer all day) somehow connects me with her. Thanks for the happy thoughts.

  82. Jennifurla says:

    Great thanks, now you have me drooling…I have to try your sandria recipe – Sounds like a great night in my opinion

  83. I love your photos…I also love marinara. I can eat it with a spoon like soup. Is that weird?

  84. lacey - a sweet pea chef says:

    Beautiful pics. I'm making a virgin sangria this week, but your looks lovely!

  85. Lynne @ CookandBeMerry says:

    What a beautiful and easy sauce. Thanks for the recipe.

    Have you considered sending your sangria photo to ?

  86. Angie's Recipes says:

    ChefD, Could I borrow some of your Marinara sauce for my penne? :-))
    It looks simply inviting with that lovely vibrant colour!

  87. Hey Dennis, My Mom was just saying that oregano is what makes pizza sauce taste like pizza sauce! So I love your marinara, and I know my Mom would too. She's with Mama J on that one…
    Oh, and that drink looks so nice. If it was not 8:30 in the morning, I would totally take 2 of those (smile).
    p.s. hope the start of classes goes smoothly!

  88. bunkycooks says:

    You got some really nifty stuff at the market. Very cool. Can't wait to see what you do with the eggplants. BTW, will you send some of your sauce to Atlanta? 😉

  89. Evan @swEEts says:

    Everything about this post is making me drool! The veggies from the farmers market looks great as does that pasta.. its funny because my roommate in college was Italian and she called her marinara sauce gravy! It always threw us all off ha I'd also like one of those sangrias right about now!

  90. Peasant Gourmet says:

    It's beautiful! What kind of flowers are in your sangria? I'm having a great time using flowers – but I'm in need of schooling on what is edible. Keep up your beautiful work – you are an artist!

  91. Cookie Sleuth says:

    Really like the idea of Greek yogurt in the rosa sauce… I hope the school year starts off well for you!

  92. Seattle Pastry Girl says:

    Just beautiful, all of it, I wish I were just down the road because I would be beating down the door for some of that marinara. Stunning photos

  93. Unbelievably great pictures and thanks for sharing a recipe for sauce! I always need these. As always great and awesome job!

  94. I never knew that marinara was technically a quick sauce. We tend to simmer our tomato sauces for hours (and also add oregano – oops!). It sounds like a wonderful sauce for the girls to start with! I agree, San Marzano tomatoes are the way to go. We buy huge jars from our local Italian store and they are delicious!

    Can't wait to see what you make with the eggplant!

  95. 5 Star Foodie says:

    Terrific sauces and beautiful pictures of the veggies!

  96. A Little Yumminess says:

    The Rosa sauce sounds great. I just made a spicy marinara last night and we loved it. So much better than bottled tomato sauce. Just watched Food Inc. and inspired to eat more vegetarian food!

  97. learning from relatives how to make a good recipe, like you learnt with the sauce, is truly a gem. keeping those tips and passing them down through generations is fantastic! plus the power that tradition can make in the taste of a dish is quite unbeatable i think 🙂

  98. Jen_from_NJ says:

    I can't wait to see what you make with those gorgeous eggplants! Best wishes for the upcoming school year. Your girls must have missed you!

  99. I love that picture of the marinara with the basil. We have so many tomatoes to eat right now so marinara sauce is sounding very good. Thanks for the recipe, the stories, and the pics. I hope you have a wonderful year of teaching. Those are some very lucky students!

  100. Wow! I love those pitures. they look so fresh and organic. The sauce recipe seems amazing 🙂

  101. FrouFrouBritches says:

    YEA! Dennis, I am so glad you shared this! I have been searching for a good homemade sauce for pasta. My L is gluten-free/casein-free so he can't have most jar sauce and he loves spaghetti. Thanks Dennis! You rock!

  102. Recipe for Delicious says:

    I make huge batches of marinara. So handy to have in the fridge. I use a recipe from America's test kitchen that is so easy! Looks like you have an incredible farmers' market.

  103. great to have this to read, great sauce and pictures… your version of sangria sounds fun to drink – good luck in your 2nd year and have fun

  104. love good, homemade marinara sauce!

  105. Magic of Spice says:

    I have never seen orange eggplant, how fun that must be…Wonderful sauces, I am quite of these both 🙂

  106. "San Marizano Tomatoes" I will be looking for those! I love your marinara recipe. Easy Peasy for me! Also, I didn't know that it was from the sea!
    I love your site, your pics and your edumacatin! 😉
    Thanks Chef!
    I love your site and feel like I can learn so much from you!

  107. Chef Dennis, you are my sauce guru! I will be making this marinara – you can count on it.

  108. Emily Malloy says:

    You are my hero. These are simple. And fantastic.

  109. sensiblecooking says:

    That looks so beautiful. Wish you were nearby I would love to be in your class. I didn't know all those information about the sauces. I would have called it marinara as well. Thanks for great post.

  110. LaDivaCucina says:

    So this explains the mystery (and argument) I have with my step mom about marinara sauce. She says its a sauce with no meat, living in Australia, I say it's a sauce with seafood in it, primarily a mix of shrimp, calamari and scallops. I never heard of the story of it being made on ships, makes sense! (but I won't tell her that! haha!)

    Gonna copy your recipe and try it out, a good marina is always good to have on hand for so many recipes. Cheers!

  111. Kim (Liv Life) says:

    My husband does not cook, however… he does make a mean marinara sauce twice a year. He tells me similar to what you said about letting it simmer and sit for a day or two before freezing (who know where he figured that out?? Maybe he is watching what I'm doing!!).

    I'm eager to try your Sangria recipe. My friend has one from Panama that we use, but I'd like to try yours with the white wine.

  112. Mother Rimmy says:

    How lucky your students are to have such a passionate teacher! A good marinara sauce has so many uses. I've always purchased it for convenience, but I'm going to make my own from now on!

  113. I've never seen those eggplants! I thought they look somewhat like pumpkins. Thanks for expanding my knowledge.

  114. Now it must be a individual taste thing but I was watching Americas Test Kitchen taste testing canned tomatoes for marinara sauce. They said that even though chefs rave about San Marzano tomatoes they didn’t make the grade when they were a part of a taste test. I did use them once and found them over rated, as well. I really thought I had to get these tomatoes to make the best sauce. But really , for me, Hunts brand makes a great sauce,too. And I think that was ATK winner.

    • hi Irma

      it certainly is an individual taste thing, but it can also depend on other factors as well. I have had some pretty bad San Marzano tomatoes, they are not all created equal. Italy has awarded certain growers a DOP that does help find a better quality product but that doesn’t always guarantee it. I bought the Wegman’s brand of SM which were DOP, and they were not very good. But Cento brand has been consistently superior in flavor as well as color, but most importantly in acidic content. As for hunts, I have always used the Anglia Mia brand and know I can count on its consistency every time I open the can. Their tomatoes do vary but its like a good table wine, they always find the right blend to keep it consistent.

      I also find that within brands some San Marzano’s are better, Cento makes a great bottled version (Passata) of crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes that is much more dense which makes it so much more flavorful. Those are truly amazing tomatoes, but they cost a good deal more.

      As for ATK picking hunts, I’m sure a lot had to do with their consistency, they make a very good product.

      Thanks for your input

  115. I like the “Restaurant Impossible” show where he often shows the owners that good fresh food can be made as easily as the junk and I sure agree with your thoughts – we rarely eat out because of this. Your dish sounds and looks delicious and since I’ve had only the parm, I will have to give it a try. Your marinara sounds simple and delicious as well.


  1. […] is the marinara sauce recipe I have been using for twenty some years if you would like to try making […]

  2. […] If that’s too much cheese for you, and you want to just do Chicken Parmesan, I’ll tell you the secret I learned many years ago from Mama Jeanette. when you set up your chicken parm make sure you sauce  under it but before you sauce over top of the breast, place a thin slice of prosciutto over the chicken, then sauce and then your mozzarella.  No one will even know the prosciutto is there but they’ll notice the extra flavor!   Follow this link for my Marinara Sauce Recipe. […]

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