When I was a kid, we’d often visit my grandparents in Brooklyn on Sundays. Dinner was always early, and often consisted of pasta with tomato sauce, or marinara. In fact, my dad remembers being a kid—all his friends would get called in for Sunday dinner at the same time, and then come out again afterward, with orange lips. There’s nothing complicated about a marinara, but it takes some time to simmer on the stove. With a little variation, this would be the starting point for a Bolognese or scungili or a braise. You can pour it on pasta or polenta or pizza. Note there is no oregano or sugar in this—some people add sugar to counter the acidity of the tomatoes, but if you let it simmer, it will mellow nicely. And the only time oregano and tomatoes go together is on pizza.

What you need

  • Olive oil

  • Garlic, 1-2 cloves

  • Onion

  • Carrot

  • Celery

  • Tomatoes, 2 cans (~28 oz each)

  • Dried basil, thyme, bayleaf

  • Chicken stock

  • White wine

  • Fresh parsley, basil

Marinara, or basic tomato sauce

How you make it

  • Finely chop the garlic, and coarsely chop the onion, carrot, and celery.
  • Add 2 or 3 tbs of olive oil to a large pot.
  • Add the garlic, onion, carrot, and celery along with a pinch of dried basil and thyme and a bay leaf and sauté for a minute or two, or until the onion starts to turn translucent.
  • Add the tomatoes, maybe a cup of chicken stock, and half a  cup of white wine. 
  • Simmer on very low heat for about an hour, stirring occasionally. Add fresh chopped parsley and basil if you have it.

Buon appetito!

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