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Classic Marinara Sauce

The secret to excellent tomato sauce? According to F&W's Grace Parisi, the trick is starting with superlative whole (not crushed) tomatoes and simmering them with whole (not chopped) garlic cloves. The result: A classic marinara that can quickly be spun into all sorts of variations.


slideshow  More Italian Dishes


  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 3 cups (enough for 1 pound of pasta)

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  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • One 35-ounce can whole peeled Italian tomatoes with their juices, crushed by hand
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 2 basil sprigs
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil. Add the garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the canned tomatoes with their juices. Stir in the sugar and basil, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Simmer the sauce over low heat, stirring occasionally, until it thickens and is reduced to 3 cups, about 30 minutes. Season again with salt and pepper. Discard the basil sprigs and garlic.

Make Ahead

The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Contributed By Photo © Frances Janisch Published September 2007

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