Having lived on Ragu and dry pasta throughout a good portion of college, I'm pretty familiar with how easy and inexpensive it is to buy store bought everything. That was all fine right up until the first time I had freshly-made pasta topped with the most delicious homemade tomato sauce I had ever tasted. You don't know the difference until you've tried it. The flavors of the tomatoes and fresh herbs make the whole taste so much brighter. It's actually pretty inexpensive to make, too!

Ingredients Here are directions for using fresh ingredients and/or canned and dried. Feel free to mix and match with the ingredients you have on hand! I've made this marinara with half the herbs, without wine, and with canned tomatoes, and it still tastes great.

  • 8 - 10 ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeded (or two 14oz cans of diced tomatoes)
  • 6oz can of tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons fresh basil (or 2/3 teaspoons of dried)
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh oregano (or 1/3 teaspoon of dried)
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh thyme (or 1/3 teaspoon of dried)
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh sage (or 1/3 teaspoon of dried)
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh rosemary (or 1/3rd teaspoon of dried)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup of wine (white or red is fine - or you could omit it altogether)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper


  1. In a large pot, heat up about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add in your diced onions and cook them at medium heat until they caramelize (become translucent and evenly brown). Once this happens, add in your minced garlic and dried herbs (if you're using dried).
  2. Once the garlic begins to brown a bit, add in your diced tomatoes, tomato paste*, 1/2 cup of wine (if you're using it), and salt and pepper to taste. Stir everything with your big spoon to combine! Then bring the heat down to a simmer. *If you're willing to let your sauce simmer for 2+ hours, you only need about 2 tablespoons of tomato paste. If you don't want to simmer it for that long (it's too hot, dinner's too soon, etc), add as much tomato paste as you need to get your sauce to your preferred thickness.
  3. Let your sauce thicken over the heat for anywhere from 30 minutes to 2+ hours, stirring occasionally throughout. If you're using fresh herbs, add them in toward the last 10 - 15 minutes of the cooking process for the best flavor.

When it's all said and done, you'll have around 2 - 3 quarts of sauce to use as you please! Since it has no preservatives, you'll want to eat it within 1 - 2 weeks refrigerated, but the sauce also freezes very well if you want to save it longer.

I've eaten it with plain pasta and homemade pizzas, and it's always been excellent!  

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Photo Credits: Hahn's Market

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