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Homemade marinara sauce with fresh tomatoes

Homemade marinara sauce with fresh tomatoes

Don’t know what to do with all those tomatoes that your garden produces?  Or maybe you simply want to make a fresh from scratch homemade marinara sauce?  Whatever reason, this recipe is all you need for your next pasta night!!

Now you may be thinking do I really have time for this homemade sauce…but I am here to tell you that it is way better than anything you can buy in the store.  And, the reality is that it really doesn’t take all that much on-hands time.

It’s also the perfect sauce to make up in a double or triple batch and stick in the freezer to use when you don’t have a lot of time.  Combine it with pasta, brown rice, farro or your other favorite whole grain and dinner is on the table in no time.  And for your protein, how about some sautéed shrimp, chickpeas or other legume!!  The possibilities are endless for creating new and creative meals with this super simple sauce.

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Feel free to adjust the seasonings in this recipe to fit your tastes.  Though I strongly encourage you to stick with a higher amount of fresh garlic in this recipe – and you may even want to throw in some extra, like me.  The fresh garlic and basil are what contribute to the rich umami flavor of this delicious sauce and the more the better.

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Personally, I like my tomato sauce a bit on the spicy side so I add in the crushed red pepper but you can certainly eliminate it without altering the flavor of the sauce too much.

Pile of fresh whole tomatoes on wooden plate with some fresh basil.Tomato Basics

Tomatoes are at the heart of this homemade marinara sauce. This fruit (yes, tomatoes are technically a fruit) is part of the nightshade family which also includes white potatoes, eggplant, bell peppers and some other peppers.  Some believe that fruits and vegetables from this family cause inflammation and may worsen symptoms of arthritis, but no scientific studies have verified this fact. In my opinion, you should go by how you feel after eating a particular food.  If you notice certain symptoms then I would certainly avoid them if they don’t make you feel great.  There are of course many other fruits and vegetables that aren’t nightshades that are just as good for you.  Consider using sweet potatoes, mushrooms and cauliflower instead.

The tomato is actually native to the Americas and were first grown by the Incas and Aztecs thousands of years ago.  The Spanish actually brought tomatoes back to Europe at some point after they began colonizing the Americas.  Today, tomatoes are easily found year around but their true season is from July until October.  I love the summer months in the northern hemisphere when you can find heirloom tomatoes at the farmer’s market in all kinds of colors such as green, yellow, orange, purple and various shades of red.

Tomatoes are typically fragile and the skin will easily break and bruise.  It is best to ripen tomatoes by sitting them with the stem-end facing down.  And definitely don’t refrigerate tomatoes as it affects the texture and flavor of the tomato.

Tomato nutrition and preparation

There are many nutrients provided by the tomatoes.  They are a primary source of the antioxidant, lycopene which may help reduce inflammation as well as reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.  Lycopene is also the compounds that contributes to the red color of the tomato.  Tomatoes also contain the compound beta carotene which the body converts to vitamin A, an important nutrient for eye health.  In addition, eating tomatoes provides you with insoluble fiber, vitamin C, potassium, folate and vitamin K.

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Tomatoes have lots of uses in the kitchen and can be eaten raw and cooked.  Slice up fresh tomatoes for a salad or layered with fresh basil.  Basil, mint, balsamic vinegar, garlic and some cheeses such as feta, mozzarella and ricotta.  If cooking tomatoes, they work great roasted in the oven, especially at a low temperature for 1-2 hours. And of course, they work great in making a traditional homemade marinara sauce.

The recipe

Homemade Marinara Sauce with Fresh Tomatoes

A delicious and fresh homemade marinara sauce made with fresh roma tomatoes!!  Also, quick and easy to make and great to make a double batch and stock in the freezer.
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Course: Dinner, Main Course, Sauce
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 34
Author: Lyn Croyle


  • 6-8 ripe roma tomatoes
  • 1 T olive oil
  • ½ medium onion about 1 cup chopped
  • 4-6 garlic cloves finely minced
  • 1 cup of fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 bay leaf


  • Bring a pot of water to boil on top of the stove. Cut an X in the bottom of each tomato. When water begins to boil, place the tomatoes in the pot, boil for 1 minute and then remove with a slotted spoon and place them in cold water.
    Cutting an "x" on the bottom of a tomato
  • You should easily be able to remove the skin from the tomatoes with your hands or a small knife. Cut into medium chunks and discard the skin.
  • Place chunks of onion in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Heat 1 T olive oil in a large pot and when hot, add the onion. Sauté over medium heat until onions are translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 60 seconds to release the flavor.
  • Add the tomatoes and cover with a lid. Cook for 30 minutes or until the tomatoes are soft. 
    Tomatoes are added to pot.
  • As tomatoes are cooking, use a spatula or spoon to break the tomatoes up into smaller pieces.
  • When the tomatoes are soft, place half* of the mixture into the food processor and blend until it reaches a smoother texture. Add 1 cup of basil leaves to the processor and pulse again to chop basil.
    Basil and tomatoes are in food processor ready to blend.
  • Return chopped tomatoes and basil to the pan with the other half of tomatoes.
    Chopped tomatoes and basil are being added back to pan.
  • Add 1 italian seasoning, salt, crushed red pepper and bay leaf to the pot. Cover and cook for 15 minutes to allow flavors to blend. Taste and adjust seasonings to your taste. Serve immediately or freeze for later use.
    Sauce is cooked for an additional 15 minutes.


*If you prefer a smoother sauce, you may want to blend all of the tomato mixture and a blender will create a much smoother consistency as well. Makes approximately 3.5 cups of sauce.


Serving: 0.75cup | Calories: 67kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 589mg | Potassium: 364mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1550IU | Vitamin C: 28.1mg | Calcium: 150mg | Iron: 0.7mg

Did you try this recipe out?  Did you serve it up with some pasta or do something a little bit different?  Please tell me about your cooking and dining experience!!  You can leave me a comment here and be sure to rate the recipe 5-stars in the card too!!!

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