I’m successfully growing basil! (By this I mean I haven’t killed the lone basil plant I bought a few weeks ago. Because my mom waters it for me.) I needed to cut it back a bit, and it was the perfect excuse to make a batch of this simple basil marinara sauce. It’s just a few ingredients, it only takes about 20 minutes, and it’s the perfect thing to stash in the freezer if you don’t need it right away. It’s got a good garlicky kick without being overwhelming, sweetness and acidity from the tomatoes, and that irreplaceable bright, green basil flavor.
The sauce starts with olive oil and minced garlic, then simmers for 10 minutes with the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and a little dried oregano and a pinch of sugar. Off heat, stir in chopped fresh basil (the smell of basil is intoxicating to me! Right??) and salt and pepper to taste – and that’s it!
The first time I made this basil marinara, I told myself I wouldn’t ever need to buy a jar again! And I mean…obviously, that was a wee bit optimistic – in real life I always have a jar of marinara in my pantry – but even though store-bought sauce is perfectly fine, this homemade sauce takes things to a different level. I want to take bites of it with a spoon, pasta or no pasta. It’s hard to believe it’s as quick and simple to make as it is!
Whether your basil
defies the odds and struggles to survive under your care grows in your herb garden or you buy a bunch at the farmer’s market or grocery store, it’ll be happy to end up in this simple sauce. And if you have a serious crop to use up, just double up the recipe and cook it in a pot rather than a skillet! A jar of sauce and a package of pasta would make a cute little gift, too (just remember to keep it refrigerated). Enjoy!
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 5 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed (about 5 teaspoons)
- 1 (28-oz) can of tomato sauce
- 1 (14.5-oz) can of diced tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
- salt and pepper to taste (I added 3/4 teaspoon of table salt)
- Add oil and garlic to a 12″ skillet and heat it over medium for a couple of minutes until it’s fragrant (but don’t let it brown). Stir in the sauce, diced tomatoes, oregano, and sugar and simmer until it has thickened (about 10 minutes). Take the skillet off the heat and stir in the basil and salt and pepper to taste.
This recipe comes from the sauce used in this Cook’s Illustrated baked ziti (which is also good!)
You can easily double the sauce if you have a bunch of basil to use up! Just use a large pot instead of a skillet.
I like to freeze the sauce in glass pint jars for later use (one batch of sauce fills 3 jars).