Grossy’s Marinara

No two cooks make marinara the same way, and no two pots are ever exactly the same, but that’s the beauty of the sauce. This method is my tried-and-true, developed over decades of trial and error, but the door is wide open for interpretation. Use what you love and be open to tweaking it as you aim for your idea of perfection. The only goal is a simmering sauce that you want to slather over everything.

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Grossy's Marinara

Grossy’s Marinara

  • Author: Dan Pelosi

What You’ll Need

Units Scale
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 10 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 pounds medium plum tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans tomato puree
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • A handful fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
  • Sugar, as needed

What You’ll Do

  1. In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the
    onion, garlic, and a generous pinch each of salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and the garlic is beginning to brown, about 6 minutes. Add the wine and oregano and simmer until the wine is reduced by about half, 6 to 8 minutes.
  2. Add the quartered tomatoes and cover the pot. Cook, covered but stirring and smashing the tomatoes occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the tomatoes are mostly broken down, about 20 minutes. Add the tomato puree, tomato paste, basil, and another pinch of salt. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the flavors develop and the sauce thickens. This can go on for hours, but about 20 minutes is the minimum.
  3. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and the sugar, as needed. Serve immediately or let cool completely in the pot. Store refrigerated in the pot for up to 3 days and reheat over low heat before serving, or transfer the cooled sauce to freezer-safe containers and store frozen for up to 6 months, thawing in the refrigerator a day before using.

Make It Step By Step With Me:

  1. Heat olive oil in your sauce pan on medium, then add chopped red onion, chopped garlic, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes.

2. Cook until browned.

3. Add 1 cup red wine and 2 tablespoons dried oregano.

4. Cook until wine is reduced by about half.

5. Add chopped fresh tomatoes, cooking until tomatoes are stewed.

6. Look at these stewed ladies!!!

7. Add the 2 28-oz. cans tomato puree and a handful fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces. Stir and let simmer on low while the flavors develop and the scent gets stronger. Fun fact: “Marinara Sauce” is my favorite scented candle. Someone let Bath and Body Works know!

This can go on for literally hours, but about 20 minutes is your minimum here.

If your sauce is too loose, add tomato paste and incorporate until you achieve your desired thickness.

8. Season with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and a bit of sugar to taste. This is where you can personalize your flavor a bit. I like my sauce on the sweet side, so I tend to use a bit more sugar. Plus, if your tomatoes aren’t naturally sweet, a little sugar takes care of that!

You can make the sauce a few days in advance—the flavor will only get better with time. Keep your pot in the fridge and reheat before serving.