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How to make fresh marinara sauce

Updated on December 16, 2017
Copyright 2011, Bill Yovino
Copyright 2011, Bill Yovino

This fresh-tasting sauce can be made in about 15 minutes, using ingredients right out of your pantry. As always, substitute fresh ingredients if you have them, but try this recipe if even if you don't have fresh tomatoes or herbs on hand.

The sauce can be served over pasta, used on homemade pizza, or combined with seafood for a special treat. The instructions for turning this into a fantastic crab sauce are included.


  • 1 can (28 ounce) whole Italian tomatoes (not crushed) See note below for using fresh tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3-4 leaves basil, chiffonade (1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped (1 tablespoon dried)
  • ½ teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped (just a pinch if dried)
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • freshly ground pepper to taste

Classic Marinara Sauce

Heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until soft and fragrant - about a minute or two. Do not brown the garlic, as this will add a bitter taste to the sauce. Add the can of tomatoes with the juice. Use a knife and fork to roughly chop the tomatoes in the pan, then mash them with a wooden spoon. Add the herbs and pepper flakes. Add a lot of freshly ground pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Serve over cooked linguini or spaghetti, along with crusty Italian bread, and a glass of chilled white wine. (Italian Pinot Grigio or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc). Traditionally, cheese should never be added to any marinara or seafood sauce.

Note: You can substitute fresh ripe tomatoes for the canned tomatoes, especially homegrown. Make a shallow “X” on the bottom of each tomato using a sharp knife. Blanch in boiling water for a few seconds, place in cold water, peel and chop. You'll need about four cups of fresh tomatoes for this recipe, and will need to add salt to taste.

Crab Sauce

To make Crab Sauce, follow the above recipe, but add two or three cleaned blue-claw crabs after simmering the sauce for 10 minutes. Cover and simmer for another 15 minutes or until crabs are cooked through.

While fresh crabs are the best for this recipe, frozen blue-claw crabs from the supermarket will make a nice sauce as well.

How to clean a crab


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