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Make the most of canned tomatoes with this easy Italian marinara sauce. It requires only 5 inexpensive pantry ingredients, it’s ready in 20 minutes and it will turn your plain spaghetti into something good!
Although this Southern Italian sauce is originally used for pizza, we love it because it’s quick, versatile and goes so well with pasta too.
This humble sauce is made with canned tomatoes, garlic, dried oregano, and olive oil. It couldn’t be easier and cheaper. And even a quick homemade marinara sauce tastes one million better than the best store-bought pasta sauce you can buy.
It’s a no brainer, especially when you’re short on time or when your fridge is empty, this simple but tasty marinara sauce is for you!
What ingredients you need
- Canned tomatoes
- Olive oil
- Dried oregano
- Onion & chili flakes (optional)
How to make it
(Note: the full recipe is at the bottom of the page)
- Gently fry garlic, onion, and chili flakes (optional) in olive
- Stir in canned tomatoes, oregano and cook for 15 minutes
- Taste and adjust the seasoning
- Meanwhile, cook your spaghetti until al dente
- Drain, add to the marinara sauce, toss well to combine
- Serve with a pinch of oregano and a drizzle of olive oil
Note: the term “marinara” might be a bit confusing. In Italy we call spaghetti alla marinara only pasta dishes featuring seafood and tomatoes, while marinara sauce is made with canned tomatoes, garlic and oregano and it’s used for pizza.
RECIPE NOTES & TIPS
This super easy recipe calls for basic cupboard staples, but their quality will make the difference! Pasta and canned tomatoes are key ingredients in this dish.
When you chose pasta, have a proper look at the label and go for durum wheat semolina pasta. Pasta brand matters, and although premium quality pasta is a bit more expensive than basic pasta, it’s resilient, it has a more robust texture. You will love wrapping around your fork spaghetti in this tasty tomato sauce!
Not all canned tomatoes are created equal! Go for good quality canned tomatoes, preferably plum tomatoes or “polpa” (finely chopped tomatoes), they both are usually fleshier and less watery than their diced counterpart.
On a label, you want to see the fewest ingredients possible, ideally only tomatoes!
MORE QUICK PASTA RECIPES?
- Pasta e ceci (pasta with chickpeas)
- 10-minute cream cheese pasta
- 15-minute garlic mushroom pasta
- Garlic and olive oil spaghetti
- 10+ Super quick pasta recipes
- 1-Pot white bean pasta
And if you love this Italian marinara sauce, or you have a question, let me know!
Leave a comment, rate it or tag a photo #theclevermeal on Instagram.
I would love to hear from you!
Italian marinara sauce
- 1/2 lb (220 grams) Spaghetti, or other pasta of your choice
- 1 can (14oz/400 grams) tomatoes
- 1 Tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 small onion, diced (optional)
- 1/4-1/2 tsp chili flakes, to taste (optional)
- salt & pepper, to taste
- In a medium pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.
- Add garlic, onion and a pinch of chili flakes if you use it. Saute' gently until golden, about 4-5 minutes.
- Stir in tomatoes, oregano and a good pinch of salt. Reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes.
- Stir occasionally. If using plum tomatoes, crush them with the back of a wooden spoon while stirring the sauce.
- Meanwhile, cook your pasta in boiling salted water until al dente.
- Taste the marinara sauce, adjust the seasoning with more salt or pepper if you like.
- Drain your pasta (saving about 1/2 cup of pasta water), stir into the marinara sauce, turn the heat to high and toss well to coat for about 10 seconds letting the pasta absorb the flavor from the sauce. At this stage, you might want to add some of the reserve pasta water to thin out the sauce, just as much as needed.
- Serve with a drizzle of olive oil or extra virgin olive oil, some oregano and chili flakes for a little kirk. Enjoy!
I love spaghetti, but penne, fusilli, conchiglie work fine. Mini pasta shapes like orzo or even elbow macaroni don’t work well in the recipe. NOTE: Nutritional values are estimates only.
This Marinara Sauce is DIVINE! I used canned crushed tomatoes and added extra garlic. I used organic spaghetti noodles and also tossed in fresh basil at the end, topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. It was truly HEAVENLY!!! ❤️
I’m so pleased to hear that! 🙂
Thanks so much for sharing your lovely feedback, I appreciate it. X
Hi! I want to make this recipe – it looks so good! I was wondering, could I used diced tomatoes instead of full tomatoes? Also, could I use fresh oregano? I have lot of oregano in my garden, and I want to use it. Thanks!
Hi Audrey! Yes, fresh tomatoes and fresh sound great, absolutely. Just make sure to remove excess seeds and water from the tomatoes. Enjoy! x