Kittencal's Marinara Pasta Sauce (Vegetarian)

Total Time
1hr 15mins
Prep 15 mins
Cook 1 hr

This is a basic simple marinara but big on flavor, it can be ready in 1 hour or you can cook it longer and even tastes better the next day that is why I strongly suggest to make this sauce 1-3 days ahead and refrigerate as the flavors will blend and intensify ---this freezes well so make a double recipe and freeze a batch for the next meal, you may omit the wine but I strongly suggest to add it in, it really adds flavor to the sauce --- please make certain to purchase only good-quality canned Italian Roma (plum) tomatoes for this it will make a huge difference to the flavor of the sauce --- all ingredients may be adjusted to suit taste, this sauce can also be simmered for a longer time in a crockpot, throw in some fresh mushrooms also if desired --- also see my Kittencal's Italian Tomato Pasta Sauce and Parmesan Meatballs

Ingredients Nutrition

  • 3 -4 tablespoons olive oil (I use enough oil to lightly coat the bottom of my pot)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 -6 garlic cloves, minced (or to taste, the more the better I use 6 extra large cloves)
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil (rubbed between fingers to release flavor)
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano (rubbed between fingers to release flavor)
  • 12 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional or adjust to taste)
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste (can use two cans for a thicker richer sauce if desired)
  • 1 (28 ounce) canwhole roma tomatoes, undrained (break up with a fork before cooking, go ahead and use two cans if desired!)
  • 13-12 cup dry red wine (you may omit if desired but good to add in, can use white wine)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (optional or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste, a good tomato sauce needs lots so don't be shy with the salt)
  • fresh ground black pepper (to taste)


  1. In a heavy-bottomed stockpot or Dutch oven heat oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add in onions, garlic and dried red pepper flakes, basil and oregano; saute for about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add in the tomato paste and stir for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add in the Roma tomatoes with juice and wine; simmer uncovered over low heat for 1-2 hours (I usually cook it for at least a couple of hours) stirring occasionally.
  5. Season with salt and pepper and add in sugar if desired.
  6. **NOTE** if you prefer a thinner sauce, then add in some water.
Most Helpful

Oh. My. Lord. THIS SAUCE! I had no plan in mind for a dish, when I decided to make it. I needed a sauce to just 'have on hand,' and this seemed simple enough. I'll admit, whilst I was making and tasting, I was not happy with it. I made it with the wine, not the best (but not the worst) 'chunky' crushed tomatoes (with garlic and basil), and about a can and a half of tomato paste. Simmered a good long while, but near the end .. I felt it missed that last little 'finish.' I dispatched a bit into a small bowl, and tried it with a bit of red wine vinegar. That helped. Then, the "AH HA!". I added about 1/3rd to 1/2 a cup of grated parmesan, and that was that.
BUT. The real deal was sealed the next day, after it had time to sit. THIS SAUCE IS SO [expletive deleted] SENSATIONAL! The depth with the wine, I can't even believe I made THIS sauce, it's so good. I'm eating it cold, out of the jar. I'm eating it as a dip, for my potato chips, I CAN NOT EAT THIS ENOUGH.
Make this sauce, indefinitely. But, my biggest advice is to MAKE THIS SAUCE, AHEAD, and give it a good few hours AT LEAST to let the flavors involve themselves fully with each other. You won't be sorry.

Froggus. August 19, 2011

Very good and easy. I've made this recipe with wine & it was very good. Tonight I didn't have wine on hand so I added about 1 tsp of balsamic vinegar which gave the sauce a nice depth.

Shakahari May 22, 2010

My husband and I always make a double batch of this and keep it frozen in easy to use sizes. I usually freeze 15oz for the two of us, sometimes it is too much but it is never too little. On pasta night I start a big pot of water and another with one of these frozen containers plopped in and four meatballs. Everything is warmed and ready when the pasta is. It is a real weeknight time saver.

Ronda K November 09, 2010