Marinara Sauce de la Jenni| Suburban Foodie Original

Why make your own marinara sauce? Why not?

I’ve been cooking long enough so I decided to create my own recipe for marinara. I’ve made it a few times and made tweaks along the way. I think the final version is pretty tasty (if I do say so myself).

Just FYI. This sauce is better the next day, so the longer it sits and stews, the better.

I’ve used it in many ways ~ as the sauce in my lasagna (added sausage), as a basic sauce over penne pasta (added heavy cream), and as a braising sauce for short ribs.

Marinara Sauce de la Jenni / Suburban Foodie Original

Cook & Prep Time: 20 minutes for prep / 2-3 hours for sauce

 You will need: 

  • a 7-quart stock pot
  • chef’s knife
  • liquid and dry measuring utensils
  • various spoons and spatulas


1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes

2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons of sugar

5 garlic cloves, minced

1/8 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon of dried oregano

1 tablespoon of dried basil

6 oz of tomato paste

16 oz of Marsala wine

1 medium onion (or 1/2 lg onion), diced

8 oz of beef stock

Salt & pepper

olive oil

1 lb of Italian Sausage (optional)

1/2 cup of heavy cream (optional)


Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Once heated, add the onion and cook for 2 minutes. Then add the following: garlic, red pepper flakes, oregano, and basil. Saute for an additional 5 minutes.

Add the Marsala wine to deglaze the pan and let simmer for about 5 minutes. Then add the beef stock, balsamic vinegar, sugar, crushed tomatoes and the tomato paste. Add salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil to taste. Stir until well combined. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 2 hours. The longer it simmers the better it is.

Optional items ~

Sausage: When I made the lasagna, I added 1 pound of Italian sausage. I cooked the sausage first, then added the onions and other ingredients in order as listed above.

Heavy cream: I added this ingredient last to make the sauce a little creamier!

 I will post the lasagna and the braised short ribs recipes in posts to follow.

Lasagna without the Wait

Yay! Not-Sagna!

That’s the response I received last night when asked the daily question, “What’s for dinner?”. If you like lasagna, but are short on time, try this recipe.  It’s very easy and very good. I make it at least once a month.

This is the last meal that I’m cooking  this week – tonight will be leftover night!

Not-Sagna Pasta Toss / Rachael Ray

Click here for original recipe

Servings:  5-6

Cook & Prep Time: 30 minutes tops (10 minutes for prepping and 20 minutes for cooking).

 You will need: 

  • A large deep skillet
  • pasta pot
  • 1 large shallow bowl
  • a garlic press (unless you want to mince your garlic)
  • various spoons and spatulas
  • can opener
  • chef’s knife
  • measuring utensils (dry and liquid)


1 lb of ground sirloin

1 lb of a short-cut pasta (I used rotini)

4 cloves of garlic, chopped (or pressed)

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon of allspice

1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup of dry red wine

1/2 cup of beef stock

1 28-oz can of crushed tomatoes

15 oz of ricotta cheese (The original recipe calls for 12 oz, but they only sell ricotta in 15 oz tubs. I use the whole tub!)

1 cup of fresh basil (about 20 leaves) (or sometimes I two tablespoons of dried)

1/2 cup of grated Parmigiano Reggiano plus some extra for sprinkling

salt and pepper


Get out your pasta pot and your large deep-sided skillet. I will fill my pasta pot with water, get it on the stove and turn it up to medium high so I can get it ready in a pinch. Also, add some salt to the water for your pasta.

NOTE: You will need a ladle-full of the pasta water for later in the recipe.

Heat the olive oil in a deep skillet over medium-high heat and begin browning the ground sirloin (add a little salt and pepper to the beef as it’s cooking). Make sure and break up the meat as it’s cooking. After about 5 minutes, add the garlic, chopped onions, red pepper flakes, allspice, and Worcestershire sauce. Cook another 5 minutes.

Next, deglaze this mixture with the red wine. Let it cook a couple of minutes. And, then add the beef stock. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and bring to a bubble. Reduce the heat and let simmer for 8-10 minutes (I usually let it go for 20 – it makes for a thicker sauce).

Now is a good time to get your pasta going – my pasta took about 10 minutes to cook.

Meanwhile, in your shallow bowl, add the ricotta cheese, parm cheese and the basil (dry or fresh). When your pasta is almost done, pour a ladle full of pasta water into the shallow bowl and whisk/stir this cheese mixture together (you want it to be a tad creamy – NOT runny). I eyeball the pasta water – if you need a little more, add it.

Drain the pasta really well then add all of the pasta to the cheese mixture and toss in your shallow bowl. Then, add about half of the tomato-meat mixture to your pasta and stir to combine.

Serve in pasta bowls – scoop some pasta from your shallow bowl and then cover it with a ladle of the remainder of the tomato-meat mixture. Then sprinkle some parm cheese over the whole thing!

Side Dish:   Salad. I used romaine lettuce, carrots, a little cheese, cucumber, avocado and light caesar dressing.  Yummy!

Let me know what you think of this one!