Grandma Calella’s Marinara

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Grandma Calella's Marinara


This homemade marinara, or as Grandma calls it, “sugo di pomodoro,” is perfect with pastas, pizzas, meatballs and a number of other main dishes.


1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped (almost minced)
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
One 8-ounce can tomato paste
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup cold water (add according to preference; may substitute 1/2 cup red wine)
Two 28-ounce cans whole, peeled tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried basil or fresh sprig (to taste)
1 medium onion, peeled with root end intact; slice off 1/2 inch at the other end (optional)


  1. Coat the bottom of a heavy pot with oil and heat on medium (below the smoke point). Lightly sauté the garlic (soften, don’t brown) and red pepper flakes. Add in the tomato paste and stir continuously until bubbling.
  2. In a bowl, fully dissolve the sugar into the water (or wine). Add to the pot until the paste becomes a dense stock; let simmer while stirring for 5 minutes or so.
  3. Add in the tomatoes and bring the pot to a gentle boil. Add the salt, pepper, basil and whole onion. Simmer for 3 to 4 hours, adding more water as needed throughout the process to maintain a firm consistency (not thick or soupy). Skim off the foamy surface and discard throughout the process. Adjust spices to taste.
  4. Allow the sauce to reduce to a velvety consistency. Remove the onion and discard (it should be soft and translucent at this point, and you can squeeze the juice into the sauce before discarding).


From the Kitchen of:
Grandma Calella