Pantry Shelf Marinara

Pantry Shelf Marinara
Pantry Shelf Marinara

A Jersey Italian Boy approved marinara sauce made from ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. This rich red sauce is just waiting to be added to pasta, meatballs and more!

So, the thing about The Boy is, he’s a New Jersey Italian. What does that mean? That means that if he doesn’t get red sauce or a folded slice of pizza on a semi-regular basis, he has to have some kind of transfusion. I picture all the Jersey Italian boys heading to their nearest Italian deli and mainlining marinara or slapping pizza patches on their torsos. Well, I can’t sit around and allow that kind of madness to infect The Boy, so I try to maintain his blood levels of red sauce at therapeutic levels.

Homemade tomato sauce, from which marinara is derived, is a huge thing in New Jersey. Like, it’s a pretty big deal. Unlike a lot of families, I don’t participate in the big annual tomato sauce canning parties that are a huge tradition in this state, where whole families, and sometimes entire neighborhoods will get together and blanch tomatoes, peel and de-seed them, cook huge vats of sauce, and ladle it into innumerable mason jars, just to get them through the long tomato-less Winter. I don’t have the real estate to grow tomatoes and, quite frankly, the only tomatoes I’ve ever grown would be unacceptable to even the most desperate of woodland animals. Ugly is an understatement. Inedible is pretty accurate.

So, I created a delicious marinara sauce made from what most of us already have in our pantry. It’s quick and easy, and absent all of the artificial ingredients, sweeteners and mysterious “stabilizers” of most commercial sauces. And it’s nice to serve something that you made from scratch. Buon Appetito!

marinara ingredients

Pantry Shelf Marinara

5 from 1 vote
Print Rate


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 anchovy filets, or 2 inches anchovy paste (optional, but really recommended)
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes (San Marzano, if you can get them. They're sweeter.)
  • 28 oz can petite diced tomatoes (again, try for San Marzano. It makes a difference)
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 splash of balsamic vinegar


  • Sauté onion and anchovy in olive oil until the onions are translucent an slightly browned on the edges and the anchovies have dissolved, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for another minute.
  • Add brown sugar, red pepper flakes, tomato paste, and dried herbs and stir until the sugar is dissolved and the raw tomato paste is cooked down a bit, about another 2-3 minutes. Told you this was quick and easy!
  • Add tomatoes, vinegar, salt, and pepper and stir well. Allow to simmer on low heat for one hour (this is the hardest part, waiting one whole hour!) At this point, you can purée the sauce to break up any small tomato bits, or leave it "rustic". Whatever texture makes you happy! Serve over pasta or meatballs or with a straw to your favorite sauce deprived friend!

4 Replies to “Pantry Shelf Marinara”

  1. 5 stars
    absolutely delicious, and SO much easier to make than i was anticipating! marinara is so intimidating from the outside, but you’ve given me all of the secrets now >:) awesome recipe!

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