This flavorful marinara sauce is made with mouth-watering San Marzano DOP tomatoes, fresh herbs, and is the perfect way to please a dinner crowd.
Reasons I love this recipe:
- This spicy marinara sauce is vegan and gluten-free.
- It's an easy recipe and takes only twenty five minutes to make.
- It's perfect for a make-ahead dish or meal prep recipe.
If you enjoy this marinara pasta recipe, try my Penne Pomodoro next!
San Marzano DOP Tomatoes
When it comes to tomato selection, there is no contest. The absolute best and most flavorful tomatoes are San Marzano DOP tomatoes.
They are traditionally and formally known as San Marzano dell'Agro Sarnese Nocerino tomatoes. They are grown and harvested from the 41 towns within the volcanic-rich area near Naples Italy.
These tomatoes are so special that they are the only tomatoes allowed to use the DOP label, which has two quality seals, so there is no confusing them with any other type of tomato.
This website has all of the information you'll ever need to know about San Marzano DOP tomatoes.
It's also important to note that this is not a specific brand of tomato, but a type of tomato that is sold under several different brands. If you're ever in doubt, be sure to look for the "DOP" after San Marzano in the name.
But what makes these tomatoes so special? The answer boils down to the incredible and unique flavor that comes from these tomatoes.
San Marzano DOP Tomatoes: These special tomatoes are the heart of the recipe. Be sure you look for "San Marzano DOP" on the label to ensure you're selecting the correct tomatoes.
Garlic: I always recommend using fresh garlic to ensure the freshest and best possible flavor.
Crushed Red Pepper: This is what makes our spicy marinara so spicy! Feel free to omit or reduce the amount of crushed red pepper if you want a more mild spice, or no spice at all.
Step by Step Instructions
This San Marzano sauce is easy to make and a beginner level recipe!
Start by pouring your San Marzano tomatoes into a bowl and gently crushing them with your (well washed) hands. Break them apart into small chunks and set aside. The tomato chunks are what gives this hearty marinara sauce it's bulk!
Next, mince the garlic and chop the fresh basil.
Combine the olive oil and garlic in a sauce pan and cook over medium-low heat for about 30 seconds. Be extra careful in this step that the garlic doesn't brown, that will give your sauce a bitter flavor.
Add the salt, oregano, and crushed red pepper to the garlic, followed by the tomatoes.
Allow the sauce to simmer for about 20 minutes. In this time you can cook any pasta you might need to serve with the sauce, I would recommend about half a pound of pasta.
At the end of cooking, remove the sauce from the heat, stir in the fresh basil, and allow to cool slightly before serving.
Substitutions and Additions
Make it less spicy: It's easy to make this homemade sauce recipe without the heat. Simply reduce the amount of crushed red pepper flakes you're using, or omit the crushed red pepper completely.
Sweeten the sauce: Add one tablespoon of sugar to your sauce if you prefer a sweeter taste.
Add some veggies: You can add diced carrots, onion, and celery to this sauce when you add the garlic. This will allow time for the vegetables to properly soften and cook and will make this an even more hearty marinara sauce!
Add lentils: Add ¼ cup of red lentils along with an additional ½ cup water when you add the tomatoes. This will give you some plant based protein and thicken your sauce.
How to Serve
Traditional Pasta Sauce: This sauce recipe was originally intended to be served as a pasta sauce, but there are so many delicious ways to incorporate this savory pasta sauce into your meals!
Lasagna: Use this in your traditional lasagna bake instead of jarred sauce.
Pizza Sauce: Add a layer of this tomato-goodness onto your pizza instead of a traditional pizza sauce.
Dipping Sauce: Use it for dipping bread, garlic knots, fried eggplant, and so much more.
Sauce for a Sandwich: This is the perfect addition to your next hot sub sandwich. If you're making a plant-based "meat"ball sub, cover those Impossible meat balls in this spicy, savory sauce.
If you enjoyed this vegan spaghetti sauce, be sure to try some of my other plant based recipes next:
San Marzano Tomato Sauce
- 1 28 oz can San Marzano tomatoes
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 7 cloves garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup oregano
- ½ cup fresh basil chopped
- Start by pouring the can of San Marzano tomatoes into a bowl. Using your freshly washed hands, break the tomatoes apart into smaller chunks. You can decide how large or small to make the chunks based on your personal preference.
- Next, mince the garlic and chop the basil.
- Pour the olive oil into a medium sized sauce pan and turn to medium-low heat. Once heated, add the minced garlic and allow it to cook for about 30 seconds. Be careful that the garlic doesn't brown or the sauce will have a bitter taste.
- Next, add the oregano, crushed red pepper, salt, and tomatoes into the pan and stir until well combined. Continue to cook over low heat for about 20 minutes.
- When the sauce has finished cooking, remove it from heat and stir in the basil. Allow it to cool slightly before serving.
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